Customs seize 12 million cigarettes

CUSTOMS officers have delivered a double blow to the finances of organised crime gangs shipping large hauls of smuggled cigarettes into the State.

Officers seized almost 12 million cigarettes — worth nearly €5m — in two separate consignments after they had been brought into Dublin Port.

Officers said last night that one of the latest hauls had been destined for the black market in the North. The Regal brand cigarettes arrived at the port in a 45-ft container from Barcelona.

Officers launched Operation Phoenix after the shipment was discovered and kept it under surveillance. It was initially hooked up to an articulated cab and driven to a quiet area where it was unhitched and then picked up by a different cab unit. The haul was then driven northwards along the M1 towards the border. It was later stopped near Dundalk.

One man was questioned but later released without charge.

This followed an earlier operation, codenamed Venture, when officers also seized about six million cigarettes, which had been concealed behind a cover load of wooden furniture, shipped from Vietnam.


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