Fag factory is raided
MORE than £800,000 worth of tobacco has been discovered during a raid on an illegal cigarette factory. HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) officers seized and dismantled the factory in Todds Green, Stevenage. During the same raid unexploded devices were found
MORE than £800,000 worth of tobacco has been discovered during a raid on an illegal cigarette factory.
HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) officers seized and dismantled the factory in Todds Green, Stevenage.
During the same raid unexploded devices were found and taken away by bomb disposal units.
Four men were arrested in connection with the factory at the scene and a further two arrests were made in Hornchurch, Essex.
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During the raid two machines used for shredding tobacco and several tons of raw tobacco with an estimated street value of £848,000 were discovered.
The machines are capable of making considerable quantities of tobacco products, including hand-rolling tobacco.
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A quantity of counterfeit tobacco pouches and packaging equipment was also seized.
John Phillips, HMRC's head of detection, said: "We are delighted with the result achieved on this case.
"Not only does this type of criminal activity have a detrimental effect on the local economy by depriving local shopkeepers of legitimate income but the chemicals used in the counterfeit process can cause a great deal of harm when smoked.
"I would urge anyone who has been offered cigarettes or any product that may have come from an illegal source to telephone our 24-hour confidential help-line on 0800 59 5000."
The amount of tax evaded is estimated at £495,000.
A HMRC spokesman told The Comet: "We are aware that most smokers buying cheap cigarettes are unlikely to realise they are buying counterfeit tobacco products.
"Counterfeit cigarettes provide a whole new set of risks to smokers.
"Tests on previous counterfeit hauls have revealed the cigarettes contained up to 60 per cent more tar, 80 per cent more nicotine, and 133 per cent more carbon monoxide."
* Five men were charged in connection with the illegal factory and bailed to appear before Ipswich Magistrates Court today (Thursday).