02:55PM, Wednesday 19 August 2020
An investigation by HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) uncovered an illicit tobacco factory in South Bucks.
Officers from Thames Valley Police and HMRC descended on a property, near Slough, on Tuesday, August 11 and seized tobacco worth £5million in evaded duty and VAT.
The processing plant, believed to be run by an organised crime gang, had 15 tonnes of processed and unprocessed tobacco inside as well as a substantial amount of tobacco manufacturing and processing machinery.
Officers dismantled a tobacco shredding machine which was too big to be removed from the premises and also discovered £3,000 in cash, false tax stamps and counterfeit tobacco packaging.
Police arrested two men, aged 56 and 20, and a 28-year-old woman, all from Buckinghamshire.
The trio have been released under investigation.
Richard Mayer, assistant director of the Fraud Investigation Service at HMRC, said: “Trade in illegal tobacco comes at a cost as it often funds wider organised crime that causes real harm to our communities, undermines legitimate traders, and takes funding away from our vital public services.
“That’s why we work with Thames Valley Police and other agencies to disrupt criminal trade, which is at the heart of our strategy to clampdown on the illicit tobacco market.
“We encourage anyone with information regarding the production, smuggling, storage or sale of illicit tobacco to report it to HMRC online or call our Fraud Hotline on 0800 788 887.”
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