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Tuesday, 11 December, 2001, 18:52 GMT
Three charged after cigarettes seizure
A customs official examines some of the haul
A customs official examines some of the haul
Three men have appeared in court in connection with the largest ever seizure of smuggled cigarettes in the Republic of Ireland.

The haul of 80 million cigarettes, valued at IR£13m, was found on a ship in County Louth on Tuesday.

Fredrick Kerley, 45, from Chatham and Robert Tibbs, 29, from Canningtown in London, and the captain of the ship, 50-year-old Terrence Wall from Cardiff, appeared in a temporary court building in Dundalk.

All three replied no when attempted evasion of duty charges were put to them.

An operation on the scale of this one could only be done on an international basis

Paul McDonald

They were remanded in custody.

Another man arrested in connection with the haul was later released without charge.

The vessel was raided following an international operation involving police, customs, navy and air force in Ireland and Britain.

The ship left Gibraltar for Ireland on 1 December and was traced to Dundalk in County Louth.

The cigarettes were mainly Benson and Hedges representing a potential loss of duty of up to IR£10m.

They were thought to have been bound for the United Kingdom market.

Paul McDonald from customs and excise in the Republic of Ireland said it was a "highly organised" smuggling operation.

"An operation on the scale of this one could only be done on an international basis," he said.

"There was an exchange of intelligence and some good work between our customs officers and customs officers in the UK."


He said it was the latest in a long line of such seizures, bringing the total number of cigarettes seized in the Irish Republic this year to about 120 million.

The cigarettes found on Tuesday were thought to have been purchased in Spain, where duty rates are much lower than in the UK or Ireland.

Earlier this month, the police pledged further action to crack down on organised crime following major cross-border fuel smuggling raids.

Police and customs officers on both sides of the Northern Ireland border raided suspected fuel smuggling and money laundering operations.

Nine men have appeared in court in connection with the operation.

The dissident republican paramilitary group, the Real IRA, were linked to two hauls of smuggled cigarettes in Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland in November.

Twenty million contraband cigarettes were seized in Dundalk and 24 hours later, up to 40m cigarettes were uncovered across the border in Warrenpoint.

BBC NI's Shane Glynn reports from County Louth:
"Three people appeared in court in Dundalk on attempted evasion of duty charges"
See also:

05 Dec 01 | Northern Ireland
Operation targets fuel smugglers
09 Nov 01 | Northern Ireland
Dissident link to cigarettes seizure
05 Nov 01 | Northern Ireland
Illegal fuel funding paramilitary groups
02 Nov 99 | Northern Ireland
Petrol retailers warn of further closures
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