Friday 18 January 2019

Thousands of cigarettes seized in Mallow raid

Some of the illegal cigarettes seized in Mallow
Some of the illegal cigarettes seized in Mallow

Bill Browne

The investment last year of €130,000 by the Revenue Commissioners in purchasing seven 'sniffer' dogs for its detector unit has continued to pay dividends following the seizure of a large cache of illegal cigarettes in Mallow this week.

Revenue officers, with the help of one of the new recruits, black Labrador Eva, seized more than 36,500 smuggled cigarettes during the search of a house under warrant at an address in Mallow on Tuesday. 

The search was undertaken after a quantity of the seized cigarettes had initially been identified by Revenue officers in a freight consignment originating in the United Kingdom. They were listed on the manifest as 'advertising stuff'. 

A Revenue spokesperson said the contraband cigarettes, which were branded 'Pect Blue' and 'NZ Slims' had a retail value of just under €22,000 and represented a potential loss to the Exchequer of €17,300. 

A polish man in his 30's was questioned at the scene by Revenue officers and a file is being prepared for the Director of Prosecutions arising out of the seizure. 

"The majority of people pay the right amount of tax and duty. If businesses or members of the public have any information about smuggling or the sale of illegal tobacco products, they can contact Revenue on our confidential phone number at 1800 295 295," said the spokesperson. 

Preliminary figures released by earlier this year for 2017 showed the sheer scale of illegal cigarette and tobacco trafficking into Ireland and how much it costs the Exchequer. 

The figures showed that there more than 34 million illegal cigarettes seized during 4,489 operations by Revenue officers with a total value of €19.4 million. In addition, 1,750kg of tobacco was seized with a value of €1million. 

The chairman of the Mallow Business Association, Pat Hayes, said the sale of black market cigarettes and tobacco was seriously impacting bottom line figures for many businesses that were already coming under financial pressure. 

"In addition to this, there is also the issue that the origin and composition of many of these products are unknown and could present a serious health risk," said Mr Hayes.

"With these issues in mind, I would echo the call of Revenue for people to report the sale of black market cigarettes and tobacco to the relevant authorities," he added.