Men quizzed over 1.2m cigarette haul in Larne

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TWO men have been arrested after more than 1.2 million smuggled cigarettes were seized at an industrial unit in Larne.

The discovery was made last Wednesday afternoon following a search by officers from HM Revenue and Customs and the PSNI. The cigarettes, which were found in a curtain-sided lorry, are estimated to be worth nearly £200,000 in unpaid excise duty and VAT.

Computers were also seized at three houses during follow-up searches in Antrim and Ballymena.

John Whiting, assistant director of criminal investigation for HMRC, said people who bought smuggled cigarettes did not know what they were paying for.

“Tobacco smuggling is organised fraud on a global scale, encouraging and supporting criminality within our communities, and robbing taxpayers of millions each year in unpaid duty and VAT.

“Anyone with information about the storage or sale of illegal tobacco in their area should contact the Customs’ hotline on 0800 59 5000 add in the web address too,” Mr Whiting concluded.

Both men were questioned and have since been released on bail pending further enquiries. Investigations surrounding the cigarettes and the seized lorry are continuing.