Smuggled Tobacco Seized At Dover

16 March 2011, 14:17 | Updated: 16 March 2011, 14:23

UK Border Agency officers seized five tonnes of hand-rolling tobacco that was hidden in a lorry as it entered the country today.

The Czech-registered vehicle arrived on a ferry from Calais and was stopped by officers at the inward freight controls at Dover's Eastern Docks.

After questioning the 39-year-old Czech driver, officers searched the vehicle and trailer.

The haul of tobacco, with Luxembourg tax stamps, was found in 11 shrink wrapped pallets within a load of electrical materials.

The case was passed to HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) for further investigation.

Paul Booth, UK Border Agency (UKBA) assistant director in Dover, said: ``This was an excellent detection by our officers. The tobacco had been well hidden and professionally wrapped in an attempt to evade UK Border Agency controls.

``The smuggling of tobacco and cigarettes is often linked to serious organised crime and can provide the funding for much larger criminal operations such as drug smuggling or people trafficking.

``Our officers work tirelessly to keep the border secure and, as in this case, prevent damage to public finances. The tax on cigarettes helps fund vital public services.''

A UKBA spokeswoman said the seizure had prevented a potential revenue loss to the exchequer of #876,000.

It has also deprived the smugglers of thousands of pounds they would have made selling the tobacco on the black market in the UK, she said.