LONDON: Illicit cigarettes were seized by UK Customs during an operation across Sandwell and Birmingham in an attempt to disrupt the sale and supply of illegal tobacco.
Shops and self-storage units were visited in the operation by HM Revenue and Customs in Wednesbury, Smethwick and Birmingham, with seizures of stock from 11 of 22 shops.
The haul totalled around £260,000 in unpaid duty and VAT.The operation took place across January 21 and 22. More than 297,000 cigarettes alone were found at a storage facility in Wednesbury.
Cash totalling £12,000 and 23 kilos of tobacco were also found. No arrests have yet been made but investigators say the net is closing in on suspects.HMRC officers were supported by Birmingham City Council’s Trading Standards team and Border Force.
Colin Booker, assistant director of criminal investigation at HMRC, said: “The sale of illegal tobacco and cigarettes will not be tolerated by us or our partner agencies, and our activity last week has sent out a clear message to those who indulge in this type of criminality.