Thursday 14 December 2017

Dissident republicans linked to €12m smuggled cigs seizure

Elaine Keogh

Dissident republicans are suspected of being behind a shipment of up to 30 million smuggled cigarettes which were seized by customs officers yesterday.

The cigarettes were hidden inside large pallets of timber.

The shipment was offloaded at Greenore Port and brought by articulated lorries to a yard outside Dundalk where the seizure was made.

The bill of lading with the load said it was timber.

It could turn out to be the largest single seizure so far this year.

If sold legitimately they would have retailed for nearly €12m. The cigarettes were brought by ship from Russia.

Last October 120 million cigarettes -- the largest single seizure in Europe -- were found in a shipment at Greenore.

Sean Kelleher, assistant principal officer in charge of revenue enforcement and anti-evasion in the border region, said: "The size of the shipment suggests the Regal and Superking cigarettes would have been sold primarily in the UK and its seizure is a deterrent to smugglers of contraband".

An initial examination suggested the Superking cigarettes were counterfeit and that they would have cost the smugglers a maximum of 50c a packet.

The yard in Dundalk was one of several locations searched yesterday morning. The yard's owners are not believed to be involved in the incident.

Another source confirmed that a gang or people who have associations with dissidents were involved in organising the smuggling and "this was a major logistical operation. They have to be professional in what they do, it is their livelihood and we have to be one step ahead of them".

Irish Independent

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