A two-day operation by HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC), to disrupt the sale and supply of illegal tobacco and alcohol in Leicester, has uncovered more than 30,600 cigarettes, 51kg of tobacco and 919 litres of alcohol, all believed to be illicit.
HMRC officers, supported by police in Leicestershire and Trading Standards East Midlands, visited 18 retail premises on Tuesday February 23 and Wednesday February 24, where the suspected illicit products, worth an estimated £28,950 in lost duty and taxes, were recovered.
The visits led to suspected illegal tobacco and alcohol being seized from 13 premises. This included:
• 30,607 cigarettes, with an estimated £9,400 duty and VAT evaded;
• 45.55kg of niche tobacco products, with an estimated £10,750 duty and VAT evaded;
• 5.68kg kilos of hand-rolling tobacco, with an estimated £1,400 duty and VAT evaded;
• 439 litres of spirits with an estimated duty value of £5,800;
• 480 litres of wine, with an estimated £1,600 duty and VAT evaded;
• £3,000 in cash seized under the Proceeds of Crime Act; and
• one car seized.
Stuart Taylor, assistant director, Fraud Investigation Service, HMRC, said: “The sale of illegal tobacco and alcohol will not be tolerated by us or our partner agencies. Disrupting criminal trade is at the heart of our strategy to clampdown on the illicit tobacco market, which costs the UK around £2bn a year, and the sale of illicit alcohol which costs the UK around £1bn per year. This is theft from the taxpayer and undermines legitimate traders.
“We will continue to target this illegal trade at all points from the supply chain to the distribution networks, which is why we would encourage anyone with information about the illegal sale of tobacco or alcohol to contact the Customs Hotline on 0800 595000.”
HMRC investigations into the seizures are continuing.