Million cigarettes seized in Blackburn

The one million cigarettes seized in Blackburn last week by customs officials were contraband Jin Ling.

HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) special inland investigators arrested six men at a commercial premises in the town on Wednesday night and Thursday morning.

They recovered the cigarettes as part of a suspected major excise duty fraud, as well as a significant amount of cash.

Jin Ling cigarettes are made in China and mainly sold in Russia.

It is thought they were brought in by freight to be split up and distributed across East Lancashire.

HM Revenue and Customs said a number of industrial and private premises have been targeted in the past six months and warned traders to look out for counterfeit goods on sale during Christmas.

The cigarettes are smuggled in to avoid paying excise duty – which is a fraud offence.

Mike O’Grady, HMRC Criminal Investigations, said: “We have uncovered what we suspect is a major smuggling fraud in the Blackburn area and seized approximately one million cigarettes and a large amount of cash.

“We believe the cigarettes entered the UK from the Eastern Bloc or Russia. Lancashire Constabulary assisted with the arrests of the gang.

“Our investigations are continuing and we would encourage anyone with information about activity they suspect may be linked to tobacco fraud to call the Customs Hotline on 0800 59 5000.”

Graham Forbes, HMRC special investigations manager said: “We have teams of officers operating across the North West to disrupt this illicit trade which has a devastating impact on legitimate retailers having to compete against these black market traders, particularly at Christmas.”

source: lancashiretelegraph.co.uk

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