Motherwell police deal with contraband cigarette seizure

A van driver has been arrested after an estimated 600,000 illicit cigarettes were seized by HM Revenue and Customs.

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The vehicle was stopped by Police Scotland officers while driving southbound on M74 in the Lanarkshire area at about 11am on Friday August 14.

Officers discovered the haul in the back of the van and alerted HMRC whose officers then made the journey to join police to discuss the matter further.

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The estimated duty lost on the cigarettes is £185,000.

A 32-year-old man from Coventry was arrested and interviewed at Motherwell Police Station by HMRC officers

He was then charged with Excise Duty fraud.

Joe Hendry, Assistant Director, Fraud Investigation Service, HMRC, said:“We are committed to disrupting the distribution of illicit tobacco across the UK and levelling the playing field for local businesses who cannot compete with criminal competitors.

“Anyone with information about people or businesses involved in tax fraud can contact our HMRC Fraud Hotline on 0800 788 887 or online at gov.uk.”

Gary Tickner, Road Policing Inspector, Police Scotland, said: “This seizure is an excellent example of our partnership with HMRC in tackling organised crime groups.

“We continue to work closely with partner agencies to detect and disrupt criminal activity in our communities.”

The wider trade in under-the-counter cigarettes can thrive via facebook group pages, pubs and even in shops where they are kept apart from other cigarettes.

Telltale signs of the product can include knockdown prices, foreign writing on the packet, the lack of a health warning and a strange taste.