Six men have been arrested as part of an investigation into a suspected £22m tobacco smuggling, tax evasion and money laundering fraud.
Officers from HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) carried out simultaneous searches of 11 premises in Essex, Cambridgeshire, Hertfordshire, London and the West Midlands on July 15, in an investigation codenamed Operation Nipper. During the operation a number of vehicles and paperwork were seized.
Sandra Smith, assistant director, criminal investigation, HMRC, said: “This is a wide ranging investigation into suspected tobacco excise duty and VAT evasion, and associated money laundering.
“The smuggling, transport, storage, or sale of illegal tobacco will not be tolerated by HMRC. Disrupting criminal trade is at the heart of our strategy to clampdown on the illicit tobacco market, which costs UK taxpayers around £2.1bn a year.
“We encourage anyone with information about suspicious tobacco or cigarette products to contact the Customs Hotline on 0800 595000.”