Industrial-scale illicit cigarette factory dismantled in Jenkinstown, Co. Louth
JTI Ireland welcomes shutdown of industrial scale illicit tobacco factory, after some 25 million counterfeit cigarettes branded 'Mayfair' were discovered ready for distribution
15 March 2018
In welcome news for law-abiding retailers, Revenue Commissioners and An Garda Síochána earlier today shut down an illegal tobacco factory producing counterfeit cigarettes in Jenkinson, Co. Louth.
Working as part of the Joint Agency Task Force, the joint operation marks the first time a commercial illicit cigarette production plant was discovered in the State.
The factory was in full operation when Revenue officers and the Armed Support Unit of An Garda Síochána entered the premises just before 8am this morning.
Eleven men, all from Eastern Europe and ranging in ages from their late 20s to late 50s, were arrested by Gardaí and brought to Dundalk Garda Station. All 11 were detained under Section 4 of the Criminal Justice Act 1984.
Revenue officers found more than 40 tonnes of tobacco, all the pre-cursor components for the manufacture of cigarettes, and approximately 25 million cigarettes, branded ‘Mayfair’, ready for distribution.
Revenue described the factory in a press statement, as “a sophisticated self-contained operation with machinery capable of producing 250,000 illicit cigarettes per hour and pre-processing, processing and packaging facilities, along with living quarters”.
Illicit cigarettes from this factory have previously been seized in both Ireland and the UK. According to Revenue, if the finished cigarettes seized at the factory today had reached the Irish market, the estimated loss to the Exchequer would have been approximately €12 million. Investigations are currently ongoing, nationally and internationally.
JTI Ireland responds
Tobacco manufacturer JTI Ireland praised the joint operation, pointing out that as well as damaging legitimate businesses and depriving the government of revenue, such activities brings serious crime into communities across the country.
“Ireland’s law enforcement agencies have struck a blow against serious crime,” said JTI Ireland general manager Andrew Reay. “The illegal tobacco trade is a long-standing issue and this is a significant development that shows the lengths to which criminals will go to bring illegal tobacco into communities.
“Cigarettes should only ever be purchased from legitimate retailers,” Reay added, “and anyone knowingly in possession of tobacco from illegal sources should be in no doubt that they are breaking the law.”
Retail Ireland responded to the day’s events by welcoming the discovery of the illegal plant and commending the work of the gardaí, Revenue officials and other state agents. Director Thomas Burke said the sale of illicit tobacco is an ongoing threat to legitimate retailers. “The discovery of a sophisticated tobacco manufacturing plant shows once more the scale and levels of organisation of this illegal activity within the State,” Burke said. “It also lays bare the loss of business to Irish retailers, and tax take foregone to the State on the sale of such products.
“The agencies that do this work require further funding and support to ensure that other such operations are discovered and shut down,” Burke added, “in order to provide a level playing field for law abiding, hardworking Irish retailers.”
Revenue has asked the public that if they know someone who is evading tax or involved in smuggling/the illegal cigarette trade to report it to Revenue’s Confidential Freephone 1800 295 295.