The ArgusIllegal tobacco products are ‘lining pockets’ of gangs (From The Argus)

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Illegal tobacco products in Brighton and Hove are ‘lining pockets’ of gangs

The Argus: Illegal tobacco products are ‘lining pockets’ of gangs Illegal tobacco products are ‘lining pockets’ of gangs

Illegal cigarettes and tobacco products are lining the pockets of organised crime gangs across the globe.

Smokers in Brighton and Hove who choose to buy Non-UK duty paid (NUKDP) cigarettes from shops, bootsales and markets are being warned that they are funding criminal operations at home and abroad.

NUKDP products include counterfeit or fake tobacco, sometimes produced in unregulated and unsafe environments, and contraband goods that have been smuggled into the country under the radar of HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC).


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Last week this newspaper handed Brighton Trading Standards ten illegal tobacco products bought from various shops and individuals across the city in just one day.

We can’t reveal the names of sellers due to the ongoing investigation – but all products were found to be NUKDP.

Some fake cigarettes are found to contain rat droppings, insects and faeces.

Crime agency Europol says organised criminals are turning to cigarette and tobacco smuggling because of its lower penalties and larger profits.

And because the UK has among the highest tobacco duty rates in the EU, smugglers are targeting the country in an attempt to lure cash-strapped smokers to buy cheap and potentially dangerous cigarettes.

In 2010 a gang of smugglers tried to conceal millions of counterfeit cigarettes into Sussex disguised as ice cream, yoghurt and frozen pizza. Lorries in Newhaven and another in Dover were stopped with illegal cigarettes worth nearly £3 million. The gang’s ringleader was sentenced in 2012 to more than six years in jail.

But buying cheap cigarettes does more than just fund criminals in the UK.

The United Nations Security Council’s investigative body found millions of pounds in illicit tobacco revenues are also reaching terror groups like al-Qaeda and the Taliban.

Mark Yexley, of JTI, said: “Law enforcement agencies across the world have identified links between tobacco smuggling and globalised crime.

“The man or woman in the street who sells illegal cigarettes could be the front for a criminal supply chain that can span the globe.

“The £5 spent by a smoker on illegal cigarettes in Brighton today can potentially fund major global criminals and terrorist organisations tomorrow.”

A spokeswoman from HMRC said the public and retailers play a vital role in the fight against tobacco fraud.

She said: “We urge people to come forward and let us know if they have information about the smuggling, sale, transport, or storage of illicit tobacco by calling the customs hotline on 0800 59 5000.”

Comments (4)

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7:37am Fri 7 Feb 14

Take it Personally says...

Oh it's not just tobacco, why doesn't the Argus pick up on the REAL issue helping gangs and organised crime: Mobile phone identity fraud. Most major telephone companies selling phone contracts without proper checks resulting in peoples names and addresses being used for accounts that are fraudulent.
Mobile phone companies very aware this is happening but refusing to do anything about it, and yes it happens a lot in Brighton.

Perhaps without all these fraudulent phones, it would be harder to peddle their contraband alcohol and tobacco??
Oh it's not just tobacco, why doesn't the Argus pick up on the REAL issue helping gangs and organised crime: Mobile phone identity fraud. Most major telephone companies selling phone contracts without proper checks resulting in peoples names and addresses being used for accounts that are fraudulent. Mobile phone companies very aware this is happening but refusing to do anything about it, and yes it happens a lot in Brighton. Perhaps without all these fraudulent phones, it would be harder to peddle their contraband alcohol and tobacco?? Take it Personally
  • Score: 2

8:03am Fri 7 Feb 14

menowhere says...

why do argus keep taking (3 so far in 2 weeks) quotes from Mark Yexley, of JTI ? these are a dodgy tobacco firm themselves.
why do argus keep taking (3 so far in 2 weeks) quotes from Mark Yexley, of JTI ? these are a dodgy tobacco firm themselves. menowhere
  • Score: -2

9:30am Fri 7 Feb 14

john5001 says...

inhaling any smoke is bad for you. and now wifi radio waves give you cancer ,
inhaling any smoke is bad for you. and now wifi radio waves give you cancer , john5001
  • Score: -2

2:47pm Fri 7 Feb 14

John Steed says...

supply and demand, the basics of a capitalist economy,
supply and demand, the basics of a capitalist economy, John Steed
  • Score: 2

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