Border Force officers at the Port of Felixstowe have made their largest ever seizure of smuggled cigarettes.

The attempt to smuggle more than 11 million cigarettes into the UK was thwarted after customs officers became suspicious about a container’s cargo.

It was supposed to be full of polymer resin, but instead officers found the contraband.

It was the largest ever Border Force seizure of cigarettes at the port and “could have cost the Treasury £3.2m in unpaid duty”, the Home Office said.

The “sheer scale of the smuggling attempt” meant it took about three days to unload and count the cigarettes, a Home Office spokesman said.

In all, 11,266,800 cigarettes in packs of 20 were found. They were “not recognisable brands”.

Charlotte Mann, assistant director for Border Force Felixstowe, said: “This is a significant seizure, the biggest my officers have ever made at the port.

“By stopping the shipment, Border Force has starved those responsible of the proceeds of their criminality.”