Officers seize 10m smuggled cigarettes at Felixstowe

An attempt to smuggle more than 10 million cigarettes hidden in boxes of tomatoes through the port of Felixstowe has been foiled.

The haul - in two containers shipped from the Canary Islands - is the biggest single seizure made at the port this year, said the UK Border Agency.

Officers' attention was drawn to the shipment by a discrepancy in the documentation.

It would have cost the UK £2m in unpaid VAT and excise duty.

Cigarettes pulped

When the containers were opened on 13 September, detection staff were confronted with four pallets of fresh tomatoes concealing the cigarettes - a mixture of brands including Raquel Golds, Regal and Superkings.

Brian Hill, the UK Border Agency's assistant director at Felixstowe, said: "Cigarette smuggling is a serious organised crime and often provides the funding for much larger criminal operations, such as drug or people trafficking."

The tomatoes - totalling more than two tonnes - are being offered to Colchester Zoo.

The cigarettes will now be shredded and the pulp used to generate electricity for the national grid.

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