News story

Three million cigarettes seized by Border Force at Harwich

An attempt to smuggle nearly three million cigarettes into the UK has been prevented by Border Force officers at Harwich.

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


The 2.9m cigarettes had been shipped to the UK from the Hook of Holland inside a trailer containing large panes of sheet glass.

The cigarettes were hidden inside cut out sections of the glass, an anomaly that was first identified when Border Force carried out an x-ray scan on the trailer.

Charlotte Mann, Border Force Assistant Director at Harwich, said:

The smugglers had cut out sections of the glass to create coffin-style spaces in which to hide the cigarettes. To the naked eye nothing about the load would have seemed untoward, but the scanned image made it very clear that the trailer warranted closer inspection.

The use of that technology, combined with officer expertise, resulted in a substantial seizure. By stopping the 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.

Had the smuggling attempt proved successful it could have cost the Treasury approximately £675,000 in unpaid duty.

The seizure was made on Sunday (8 March).

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.

Published 19 March 2015