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Revenue officials seize cigarettes worth €14.7m at Dublin Port in massive haul

MORE than 38 million contraband cigarettes worth almost €15m have been seized by Customs officials.

The haul - the largest in Europe so far this year - was discovered in four 40ft (12m) maritime containers imported into Dublin Port.

A premises was also searched after legal documentation linked the consignment with an Irish-based company.

No arrests have been made.

Revenue Commissioner Liam Irwin said the seizure, which was the result of profiling by the Revenue's Customs Service, was a significant blow to the criminals involved in the illicit trade.

"Tobacco smuggling is organised fraud on a global scale - it brings criminality into our communities and robs millions of euro from the State each year," he said.

The Golden Eagiie brand cigarettes, which originated in Vietnam, arrived in Ireland via Rotterdam specifically for the black market.

Revenue officials believe the haul had a potential loss to the Exchequer of €13.1m

The cargo was described on the manifest as "wood briquettes" and was consigned to an Irish-based company.

Approximately 9.5 million cigarettes were seized from each of the four containers, which travelled on one Bill of Lading - a legal document detailing ownership of the goods.

The containers were selected for X-ray scan based on risk profiling by Customs officers, with scans showing an anomaly in the contents.

Further inspection found boxes of wood pellets being used to cover the illegal load.

It is the third largest seizure in Ireland - after 120 million cigarettes were found in 2009 and €70m 2001.

A Customs spokeswoman said several individuals were interviewed and a premises was searched under warrant after it had been identified in the documentation.

"Documents seized as part of the investigation are currently being examined," she said.

"Investigations are ongoing nationally and internationally."

PA Media