MORE than 30 million illegal cigarettes have been seized at an industrial unit near Dudley.

The seizure is one of the largest of its kind, with the cigarettes worth an estimated £11.6 million in unpaid duty.

HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) said the cigarettes were discovered hidden amongst packets of dried noodle soup at a distribution centre near Dudley.

They were packed onto 120 pallets, each containing around 252,000 cigarettes and stacked eight feet high.

It took six HGVs to remove the haul. 

Dudley News:

The illicit cigarettes were seized by HMRC officers on 16 November.

Paul Fisher, Assistant Director, Fraud Investigation Service, HMRC, said: “This is one of the largest inland seizures HMRC has ever made and it required six HGVs to remove the cigarettes.

“Disrupting criminal trade is at the heart of our strategy to clampdown on the illicit tobacco market, which costs the UK around £1.9 billion a year. This is theft from the taxpayer and undermines legitimate traders.

“Cheap cigarettes come at a cost, as they often finance organised crime and we will continue to pursue those who commit tobacco fraud.

“We encourage anyone with information about the illegal sale of tobacco to report it online or call the Fraud Hotline on 0800 788 887.”

Dudley News:

The HMRC would not reveal the location of the distribution centre other than to say it was near Dudley. A spokesman said no further information was available as investigations are ongoing.