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25 May 2013, 11:25 | Updated: 25 May 2013, 11:28
The seizure was made at 8am yesterday (Thursday 23 May) when officers selected an HGV pulling a side-sheeted trailer for further examination.
The vehicle, which had arrived at the port from the Hook of Holland, was listed as carrying a load of plastic tubs containing plaster granules.
However, when officers searched the vehicle they found that each tub contained nine cartons of cigarettes concealed among the plaster. An estimated 2.2m cigarettes were recovered.
Charlotte Mann, Assistant Director for Border Force at Harwich, said: “The size of this detection should leave people in no doubt that tobacco smuggling is a serious and organised crime. It deprives the economy of significant revenue and diverts the money into the pockets of organised criminal gangs.
“By stopping these shipments we are starving them of the proceeds of their criminality.
“I would urge anyone tempted by cheap cigarettes and tobacco to think again. The black market cheats honest traders. It is totally unregulated so buyers have no way of knowing what they are actually getting and, worst of all, further up the supply chain serious criminals are reaping the rewards.”
If the haul had not been intercepted it could have cost the treasury about £519,342 in unpaid excise duty.
Border Force officers use hi-tech search equipment to combat immigration crime and detect banned and restricted goods that smugglers attempt to bring into the country.
They use an array of search techniques including sniffer dogs, carbon dioxide detectors, heartbeat monitors and scanners - as well as visual searches - to find well-hidden stowaways, illegal drugs, firearms and cigarettes which would otherwise end up causing harm to local people, businesses and communities.
Anyone with information about suspected smuggling should contact our hotline on 0800 59 5000.