Border raid uncovers €1m in illegal tobacco
CUSTOMS officers and gardai have seized a massive haul of tobacco, worth more than €1m on the black market, after a planned search of a house near the Border.
The joint operation was carried out after an intelligence-gathering operation targeting a criminal gang with links overseas.
Investigators believe the recovered haul had recently been smuggled into the country and are liaising with police and customs agencies in other jurisdictions.
The swoop on a house at Proleek, Ravensdale, outside Dundalk, Co Louth, was carried out shortly before 8am yesterday.
Customs said last night that the raid had disrupted a large-scale cottage-type industry for preparing and packaging illegal roll-your-own tobacco.
Officers said they believed this was the first of its type uncovered in the State.
They estimated the seizure at about three tonnes of tobacco, with a street value of €1.2m and a potential loss to the Exchequer of about €1m.
Dutch tax stamps were also found along with the tobacco and 8,720 cigarettes.
Gardai from Dundalk and armed members of the regional support unit backed up Customs personnel as they made the seizure.
During the search they recovered the tobacco along with an estimated 8,500 cigarettes, empty tobacco pouches, equipment for sealing pouches, alcohol labels and 60 litres of an unidentified liquid.
A couple, who were in the house at the time of the raid, were interviewed but were not arrested.
Customs and gardai believe the haul was destined for sale on the black market along the Border and suspect that it was smuggled into the country by an eastern European gang.
Meanwhile, in an unrelated joint operation between the Customs and gardai, herbal cannabis with an estimated street value of about €46,000 was seized in Killarney, Co Kerry, yesterday afternoon.