Two million cigarettes worth €1m seized by customs
A MAN is to appear in court tomorrow after a major cigarette seizure by Customs officers at the weekend.
Officers intercepted and searched a container that was being brought into Rosslare port, Co Wexford, on a ferry from Cherbourg on Saturday.
They found a consignment of more than two million cigarettes with an estimated retail value of €1m. The haul represented a potential loss to the Exchequer of €750,000.
The consignment had been hidden in a shipment of stone cladding on the 70ft container.
A 49-year-old man from the North was arrested and taken to Wexford garda station for questioning. He is to appear in Cloverhill District Court tomorrow morning.
The seizure was welcomed last night by Retail Ireland, the IBEC group that represents the retail sector. Director Torlach Denihan said tobacco smuggling cost the State more than €500m in lost revenue every year.
"This money could be used to pay for 1,300 hospital beds.
"It is disappointing that the courts do not take a more serious view of tobacco smuggling and tend to impose fairly small fines," Mr Denihan added.
A report from the Comptroller and Auditor General also highlighted the need for a sustained assault on the smugglers by Customs.
Meanwhile, in a separate operation at the weekend a Customs team and gardai from Cork seized 3,000 cigarettes, made up of counterfeit John Player Blue and Bond brands, on the northside of the city.
The operation was launched after leaflets were distributed to private homes advertising cheap cigarettes for sale.
A vehicle, valued at €8,000, was also confiscated and a man and woman were questioned about the haul.
Customs officers appealed to anyone with information about cigarette smuggling to contact their new confidential phone line, 1800 295295.
Meanwhile, gardai from Dublin detained two men for questioning after they discovered 20 kilos of cannabis pollen, with a street value of €250,000, when they raided a warehouse in Beaumont on the northside of the capital.