News story

Border Force stops Purfleet tobacco smuggling attempt

This news article was published under the 2010 to 2015 Conservative and Liberal Democrat coalition government

An attempt to smuggle almost 7 tonnes of hand-rolling tobacco into the UK via the Port of Purfleet was thwarted by Border Force officers.

An attempt to smuggle almost seven tonnes of hand-rolling tobacco into the UK through the Port of Purfleet has been prevented by Border Force officers.

The 6.93 tonnes, one of the largest ever seizures made at the port, had been shipped to the UK from Belgium inside a trailer whose contents had been listed as simply “pallets”.

Tobacco smuggling costs the UK economy

Had the smuggling attempt proved successful it would have cost the Treasury approximately £1.77m in unpaid duty.

Mark Kennedy, Border Force Assistant Director at Purfleet, said:

The trailer was full of shrink-wrapped pallets containing plain cartons marked ‘Hygienic Articles’. When my officers started examining boxes they found a top layer of pocket tissues with the remainder full of the tobacco.

This was an excellent piece of detection work. By stopping this shipment we have starved those responsible of the proceeds of their criminality.

I would urge anyone tempted by cheap cigarettes and tobacco to think again. The black market cheats honest traders and it is effectively stealing from the public purse.

The seizure was made on 5 December. Border Force officers use hi-tech search equipment to combat immigration crime and detect banned and restricted goods that smugglers attempt to bring into the country.

They use an array of search techniques, which in addition to sniffer dogs includes carbon dioxide detectors, heartbeat monitors and scanners - as well as visual searches - to find well-hidden stowaways, illegal drugs, firearms and tobacco which would otherwise end up causing harm to local people, businesses and communities. Anyone with information about activity they suspect may be linked to smuggling can call our hotline on 0800 59 5000.