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Ireland Customs target punters buying illegal tobacco

Ireland Customs target punters buying illegal tobacco

DUBLIN: Punters who purchase illegal tobacco at Drogheda’s Bolton Square market run the risk of having their items confiscated by watching Revenue officers.

The Drogheda Independent has learned that a number of people who bought cigarettes from the contraband sellers were then followed by the customs and had the purchases taken off them.

One man stated that it was a ‘new line’ that the officials were taking.

The customs have maintained a high visibility presence at the market for the past few months in a crackdown on the illicit sale of tobacco locally.

While the dealers don’t openly sell their products anymore, customers have taken to meeting them behind stalls and in nearby side streets.

‘I was up in the market last week and bought €35 worth of cigarettes,’ a customer revealed. He then went into a bookmakers to place a bet, came out and was walking away when he was approached by the revenue.

‘I was asked did I buy cigarettes and I had to say yes because it was obvious I had them on me,’ he stated. He was then told they had to be confiscated and were placed in a large bag with a number of other purchases.

The customer said that up to seven other people he was aware of had also fallen foul of the customs operation.

‘I can buy the cigarettes for €50 in other places in Drogheda, but the market is the cheapest,’ he continued.

While acknowledging that the selling of the cigarettes was illegal, he expressed a belief that those selling them should be under scrutiny, rather than the customers who are smokers and want to simply purchase cheap cigarettes.

But it now seems likely that the targeting of customers will continue in a bid to end the sale of the products at the market.

‘Revenue officers target the illicit trade in tobacco products by carrying out high visibility operations and random checks at a variety of locations, including markets. Where officers observe or are aware of the illegal sale of tobacco products they may seize the goods as liable to forfeiture under Section 78(7) of the Finance Act, 2005,’ a revenue spokesperson stated.

They add that while the offence is committed by the seller of the contraband tobacco product, as opposed to the purchaser, the product can be seized from the purchaser in accordance with the act.

The sale of illegal CDs has begun again after stopping for some months, but the revenue stated that that is not their responsibiity.

‘Enforcement action in respect of the illegal sale of ‘pirate’ or ‘counterfeit’ CDs is a matter for An Garda Síochána,’ they added.