Illegal tobacco factory found after van raid

An illegal tobacco factory processing counterfeit cigarettes has been discovered by Warwickshire Police. Picture: Contributed
An illegal tobacco factory processing counterfeit cigarettes has been discovered by Warwickshire Police. Picture: Contributed
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AN illegal tobacco processing factory has been discovered at an industrial unit after two men were arrested at a motorway road check with half-a-tonne of processed tobacco in their van.

The two suspects, a 36-year-old man from Portsmouth and a 28-year-old man from Glasgow, were arrested following the police check carried out by Warwickshire Police at Warwick Services on the M40 on November 17.

The seizure led officers from HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) to an industrial estate in Bishop’s Waltham, Hampshire, where they found a tonne of tobacco along with counterfeit tobacco pouches, duty labels and processing machinery.

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The seized tobacco could have filled 30,000 standard 50g tobacco pouches with the duty evaded being about £300,000.

John Cooper, assistant director, criminal investigation, HMRC said: “Working closely with our partners at Warwickshire Police and the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency, we have uncovered and closed down an illegal tobacco processing operation. Disrupting criminal trade is at the heart of our strategy to clampdown on the illicit tobacco market, which costs the UK around £2.1 billion a year in lost revenue.

“This is theft from the taxpayer and undermines legitimate traders. Anyone with information about the illegal production or sale of tobacco should contact the Customs Hotline on 0800 59 5000.”

The two men were arrested on suspicion of being involved in the fraudulent evasion of excise duty and were bailed until May 2015.

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