Two men have been arrested following the seizure of more than one million cigarettes and tobacco in Co. Down.
It comes after HMRC officers searched premises in Banbridge on Monday (February 5) as part of an operation to disrupt the sale and supply of suspected non-UK duty paid goods.
Supported by the PSNI, they seized cigarettes and tobacco worth an estimated £713,789 in duty and taxes.
1,004,360 non-UK duty paid cigarettes and 474kg of hand-rolling tobacco were seized and a 56-year-old man and an 18-year-old man were arrested and released on bail.
Lucie Irving, Assistant Director, Fraud Investigation Service, HMRC, said: “The trade in illicit cigarettes and tobacco damages funding for essential public services and undermines legitimate traders including small, independent shops that serve local communities.
“HMRC continues to work closely with our partners to relentlessly pursue the determined minority who refuse to play by the rules.”
Temporary Detective Superintendent Avine Kelly, PSNI, added: “The illegal trade of cigarettes and tobacco results in obvious damage. It harms honest and legitimate traders, and presents a cheaper option that’s worryingly more accessible to all.
“This activity also, however, has a less obvious consequence, and that’s a link with organised crime.
“Working with our partner agencies, we remain committed to tackling the trade of illicit tobacco, and we remain resolute in our efforts to bring those who profit from criminality before the courts.”
Anyone with information about the illegal sale of tobacco or alcohol should report it to HMRC online.