Two men with addresses in Boston were arrested as part of a major customs swoop to bust a suspected £6 million cigarette smuggling operation.
About 100 officers, helped by Lincolnshire and Cambridgeshire police and Peterborough Trading Standards – carried out 30 searches of homes, shops and warehouses yesterday.
The raids were in the Peterborough and Spalding areas and led to five arrests and the seizure of 630,000 ilicit white cigarettes and £13,000.
Richard Las, HMRC’s Deputy Director for Criminal Investigation, said: “This operation is an HMRC-led investigation targeting suspected cigarette smuggling and money laundering offences, centred on Peterborough and Spalding. We cannot provide any further information as the investigation is continuing.“Our activity today sends out a clear message to those involved in this type of criminality.
“Attempts to import, distribute and sell tobacco goods on which UK duty has not been paid are treated extremely seriously by HMRC, and we will relentlessly pursue any individuals or crime gangs believed to be involved.
“You can report anyone you suspect may be selling illegal tobacco goods by calling our 24 hour Customs Hotline on 0800 59 5000.”
Two men, aged 34 and 27, with addresses in Boston were arrested in Spalding. Three further men, aged 52, 22 and 45, were arrested in Peterborough.
All five men were arrested on suspicion of being involved in excise fraud, primarily the illegal importation of Jing Ling cigarettes.