€10 million of contraband tobacco in 10 days
Surveillance operations between An Garda Síochana and Customs uncovered more massive smuggling operations targeting Ireland
11 December 2009
Last month, massive hauls of contraband cigarettes continued to be found in Ireland, with a total of almost €10 million worth of tobacco seizures in 10 days. Tobacco retailers representative group, Retailers Against Smuggling commended Customs for seizing six million ‘Regal brand’ cigarettes with a street value of €1.6 million. The illicit product arrived at Dublin Port from Barcelona in a 45ft container, marked on the manifest as “hair extensions.”
It is believed the cigarettes were headed for Northern Ireland and the UK market. They were discovered as part of routine profiling, hidden among empty boxes in 25 wrapped pallets.
Two days prior to this discovery, Customs found a haul of approx six million ‘Souvenir brand’ cigarettes in a container arrived at Dublin Port from Vietnam. In a joint surveillance operation between Customs and An Garda Síochána, code-named ‘Operation Venture,’ the contraband tobacco was eventually discovered on arrival, behind a cover load of wooden furniture.
While both cigarette seizures are still being processed, Customs estimates that they carried a combined street value of approx €4.8 million, which would have represented a loss of around €3.9 million to the exchequer.
This is in addition to a haul the previous week of almost eight tonnes of tobacco leaf and the paraphernalia needed to manufacture up to 12 million cigarettes. Customs estimated the revenue that was at risk from this seizure was in the region of €4 million. It was found in a 40ft container, declared as ‘paper,’ which had arrived in Dublin Port via Holyhead. The load had shown up inconsistencies when profiled by officers and when scanned by the Customs X-Ray scanner.
The consignment, which consisted of tobacco, filters and packaging material, was followed to a premises in Co Monaghan where customs officers seized it. It is believed the load was destined for a cigarette-making plant in the border area or in Northern Ireland. The investigation is on-going nationally and internationally.