HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) has uncovered what is believed to be an illicit tobacco processing plant at a unit at a business park in New Malden, Surrey, seizing over 500kg of suspected illicit hand rolling tobacco and a number of items of processing equipment.

HMRC officers raided the industrial unit on 14 January and found 400kg of loose hand rolling tobacco and a further 120kg packaged in suspected fake Golden Virginia pouches.

Officers also found a selection of processing equipment and a heat-sealing machine which they believe have been used in the production of black market, hand-rolling tobacco goods.

The suspected revenue loss on the haul is around £80,000. No arrests were made. Investigations are ongoing.

Martin Brown, assistant director, criminal investigation, HMRC, said: “We believe this was a major plot to flood the UK with unregulated and fake tobacco. This illegal trade has a devastating impact on local communities, honest retailers having to compete with this underworld trade and taxpayers whose money should be going to fund the UK economy lining the pockets of criminals.

“We will not stop in our work to stamp out this form of crime and encourage anyone with information regarding tobacco smuggling to contact the Customs Hotline on 0800 595000.”