Dec 27 2012 by Rob Pattinson, Ormskirk Advertiser
ILLEGAL tobacco worth up to £500,000 in unpaid tax was seized by customs officers during a raid on an industrial premises in Burscough.
A large number of hand-rolling tobacco pouches and more than 3.2 tonnes of raw tobacco was uncovered in the December 12 raid.
Officials also uncovered counterfeit packaging, weighing scales and tobacco cutting and packing machinery.
The factory was dismantled and HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) said the seized tobacco will be used to fuel the National Grid this winter.
Mike O’Grady, HMRC assistant director of criminal investigation, said: “We have made a large dent in some criminals’ Christmas profits – the processed tobacco would have been worth £500,000 in evaded UK duty and VAT.
“Initial indications are that this factory had links to Hungarian nationals and the pouches were not a known legitimate brand in the UK.
“Cheap tobacco may seem like a bargain at the time, but this tobacco was packaged in less than ideal conditions.
“Tobacco factories like this are packaging low-quality tobacco and I would urge people to be wary.
“If you are offered tobacco at a price that seems too good to be true, then it probably is.
“Tobacco smuggling is a serious crime. It undermines honest traders, putting their livelihoods at risk and damages our local economy.”
A spokesman for HMRC said no arrests have been yet been made.
Anyone with information about tobacco can call customs on 0800 59 5000.