Five men have been arrested in a series of early morning raids in the West Midlands as part of an investigation into a suspected £120m tobacco smuggling fraud.

Around 130 investigators from HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC), assisted by officers from West Midlands police, carried out searches at 10 residential and three commercial properties in the Smethwick, West Bromwich and Great Barrareas of Birmingham.

The arrests of two men from Smethwick, two men from Great Barr and one from West Bromwich are the result of a long-running HMRC investigation codenamed Operation Dardanelle, and follow recent seizures of 16 million cigarettes and £600,000 in cash.

Colin Booker, Assistant Director, Criminal Investigation, HMRC, said: “Operation Dardanelle is an HMRC investigation targeting what we believe to be the organised smuggling of cigarettes and tobacco.

“Our activity sends out a clear message to those involved in this type of criminality. We are determined to crack down on the illicit tobacco trade that undermines the efforts of legitimate traders and we will relentlessly pursue those believed to be involved.”

Anyone with information about tobacco or cigarette smuggling can contact the Customs Hotline on 0800 59 5000 or can click here.

HMRC, raids, tobacco, smuggling, Birmingham