Three homes and one business were raided in county Armagh as part of an investigation into a suspected £110 million tobacco fraud.
12 tonnes of unprocessed tobacco, worth an estimated £2 million in lost revenue, was seized along with one million cigarettes, worth an estimated £250,000 in lost revenue. £30k in cash was taken by HM Revenue and Customs.
Five people from Tyrone and Down have been arrested by customs.
Investigators, accompanied by Police Service of Northern Ireland officers, searched nine addresses in Down, Tyrone and Armagh yesterday morning.
Simultaneous searches took place in Louth and Dublin by officers from Revenue’s Custom Service with support from An Garda Síochána.
A tobacco processing plant, 12 tonnes of raw tobacco, two million cigarettes and £50,000 in cash were seized during the operation in Northern Ireland.
Mike Parkinson, Assistant Director, Criminal Investigation, HMRC, said: “The trade in illicit tobacco is unregulated and makes cheaper tobacco more readily available to the young and vulnerable.
“Tobacco fraud is a highly organised global crime which costs the UK £2 billion a year in lost taxes. Co-operation with our partners across the UK, Ireland and overseas is essential if we are to tackle this problem effectively.
“Anyone with information on tobacco fraud can contact the Customs hotline on 0800 59 5000.”
The five people were questioned by HMRC and have been released on bail. Investigations into the fraud are ongoing.
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