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Cigs held in latest airport swoop valued at €223k

MORE than half a million cigarettes have been seized by Customs officials at Dublin airport.

The massive haul, which was discovered as part of an operations into smuggling gangs from Lithuania was carried out between Saturday night and yesterday morning.

A number of people were questioned by officers and files are to be prepared for the Director of Public Prosecution.

Operation Scuab focused on flights from Kaunas in Lithuania.

Scuab is part of an on-going drive by Customs against what is known as "ant smuggling" where an organised group flies into Dublin with a large shipment of cigarettes, which is then handed over to a courier at the airport and the group returns home on the next available flight.

On Saturday night officers seized 120,000 cigarettes from 20 passengers on a flight from Kaunas.

Another flight from there was targeted on Sunday and an additional 77,000 cigarettes were confiscated.

Yesterday morning another 88,600 cigarettes were taken from couriers arriving from Kaunas.

Over the same four day period, operations targeting smuggling from the Canary Islands resulted in the seizure of 151,000 cigarettes and 14kgs of tobacco.

A further 120,640 cigarettes were confiscated from couriers arriving from other source countries.

The cigarettes are valued at about €223,000 with a potential loss in revenue of €185,000.

Brands seized include L&M, Marlboro, CK, West, Dorchester and Kent.

Officers said the operations represented a significant success for Revenue in tackling cigarette smuggling and warned that flights from source countries would continue to be targeted.