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Thousands of illegal cigarettes seized from fruit machine

HMRC said more than 6,000 cigarettes and eight kilos of hand-rolling tobacco were recovered.

Raid: Tobacco and cigarettes were found concealed in a fruit machine.
Raid: Tobacco and cigarettes were found concealed in a fruit machine. HMRC

Illegal cigarettes and illicit tobacco hidden in a fruit machine were seized by customs officers in Edinburgh after a criminal gamble backfired.

A joint operation led by HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) targeted several retail premises in the city on Friday.

More than 6,000 cigarettes and eight kilos of hand-rolling tobacco were recovered - including the haul cunningly concealed in a fruit machine.

Cheryl Burr, Assistant Director, Fraud Investigation Service, HMRC, said: "The sale of illegal tobacco will not be tolerated by us or our partner agencies.

"Disrupting criminal trade is at the heart of our strategy to clampdown on the illicit tobacco market, which costs the UK around £2.5bn a year.

"This is theft from the taxpayer and undermines legitimate traders."

Councillor Lesley Macinnes, Transport and Environment Convener, at the City of Edinburgh Council, said: "This operation is an example of effective partnership working between agencies involved, which I hope will go some way toward deterring the sale of illegal tobacco in Edinburgh.

"The illicit trade of such products is unacceptable and I would encourage anyone who suspects the illegal sale of tobacco to report it to Trading Standards."

Trading Standards, Immigration Enforcement and Police Scotland also took part in the HMRC's Tobacco Taskforce activity raids.

Law enforcement officials were joined on the raids by three tobacco dogs and their handlers.

The raids led to the recovery of 6,640 cigarettes, which amounted to £1,774 in lost duty, and eight kilos of hand rolling tobacco, which amounted to £1,811 in lost duty.

Anyone with information about the illegal sale of tobacco is asked to contact the Fraud Hotline on 0800 788 887.

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