Three men have been arrested in Peterborough on suspicion of smuggling an estimated 8.3 million cigarettes into the UK and evading about £1.5m in excise duty.

HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) criminal investigators, assisted by Cambridgeshire Police, arrested the men last Friday morning, 2 August, as the tobacco was being off-loaded from a Hungarian-registered lorry to the south of the city.

Two residential properties, one business premises and three vehicles have been searched. Investigations are continuing.

Paul Barton, HMRC assistant director criminal investigation, said: “Tobacco smuggling undermines legitimate retailers and costs the UK around £1.8bn a year in lost revenue. Anyone with information about the illegal sale or importation of cigarettes should contact the Customs Hotline on 0800 59 5000.”

The three men, a 42-year-old man from Peterborough, Cambridgeshire, a 49-year-old man from Gateshead, Tyne and Wear, and a 28-year-old man from Hungary, have been interviewed and released on bail until December 2013.