Customs seize over €18,000 of tobacco
CUSTOMS officers have seized over €18,000 worth of black market tobacco in Tralee following searches of two rented residential properties close to the town centre.
Acting on confidential information and as part of a planned operation Revenue Customs officers and gardaí used search warrants to conduct raids on the two properties last Wednesday afternoon, January 22.
The twin searches uncovered over 46kg of 'roll your own' tobacco that had been smuggled into the state with no duty paid. The tobacco was discovered hidden in a number of marked cargo boxes which had been surrounded and hidden with metal sheeting.
The Pall Mall and Turner branded tobacco had an estimated retail value of €18,300 and represented a total loss of €14,300 to the State.
Two men, aged in their 30s and 40s, were arrested as part of the operation. The two men, both Polish nationals, were questioned by customs officers and have subsequently been released without charge.
Revenue said it is continuing its investigations following the tobacco seizure with a view to bringing a prosecution.
The discovery came on the same day that The Kerryman revealed figures showing that one in four cigarettes smoked in Tralee is thought to be illegal or counterfeit.
Kerry's black market trade in cigarettes and tobacco is thought to be worth over €5 million a year to smugglers as more and more smokers take the back street option in the face of ever-increasing government taxes on tobacco products.
The estimated loss to the exchequer from the illegal sale of cigarettes in Kerry alone is estimated at about €16 million a year according to Revenue estimates.