More than 412 kilos of raw tobacco has been seized and a suspected illicit tobacco factory dismantled near Preston by HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC).

The tobacco was found in various stages of processing during searches of a business premises in Hutton by Lancashire Police on Thursday (26 March). The haul, thought to be worth around £93,000 in lost duty and taxes, was seized by HMRC officers and the plant was dismantled. Investigations are ongoing.

Sandra Smith, assistant director, criminal investigation, HMRC, said: “Tobacco fraud is highly organised global crime which costs the UK £2bn a year in lost taxes which should be spent on public services. In addition to significant revenue loss, illicit tobacco products damage legitimate businesses and the trade is unregulated making cheaper tobacco more readily available to the young and vulnerable.

“We would encourage anyone with information on tobacco fraud to contact the Customs’ Hotline on 0800 595000.”