HMRC seizes over a million 'illicit' cigarettes from storage unit raid

HMRC agents recovered thousands of pounds worth of undeclared duty and taxes on alcohol and cigarettes during the operation.

Customs officers seize £631,000 worth of ‘illicit’ alcohol and cigarettes storage unit raid HMRC
Customs agents recovered more than a million cigarettes and thousands of pounds worth of alcohol in the raid.

Customs officers have seized more than a million “illicit” cigarettes and thousands of pounds worth of alcohol in a raid on a storage unit in West Lothian.

Teams from HMRC’s enforcement squad uncovered 5000 litres of whisky and almost 3000 litres of prosecco as part of a haul worth an estimated £631,000 in undeclared duty and taxes from the facility in Whitburn.

Two vehicles and £5000 in cash were also recovered alongside two pallets of alcohol during the operation on April 27.

An investigation has now been launched into the seizure, HMRC confirmed, adding the “sale of illegal tobacco and alcohol would not be tolerated”.

The illegal alcohol and tobacco market is thought to be worth £3.3bn a year to the UK economy, according to the agency’s figures.

A total of 1.1 million cigarettes, worth around £510,000, a van and a forklift truck were among the items impounded by customs agents.

A further 2600 litres of vodka, 1500 litres of wine, 230 litres of gin and 40 litres of rum have also been confiscated as part of the activity.

The items are now set to be held for further “forensic testing” while a probe takes place before being destroyed.