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Monday, October 12, 1998 Published at 02:10 GMT 03:10 UK


Duty-free smuggling at a glance

In May 1997 - before the World Cup - 10,000 vans crossed the Channel

  • The amount of beer coming across the channel each day equals the weekly sales of 1,000 British pubs.
  • In 1997 it was estimated that the tax man had been cheated out of £23m of duty in eight months after a gang of six men were arrested
  • The average British pub landlord is estimated to lose £3,225 in beer sales to bootlegging every year
  • When the European Single Market came into effect in 1993 it was wrongly assumed that the other EU countries would adopt similar duty rates.
  • Ellis Martin was sentenced to six years and 10 months imprisonment in 1996 after he smuggled nearly 9,000,000 cans of extra strong lager
  • Martin masterminded the biggest cross-Channel smuggling operation which cost the Inland Revenue £5m
  • In the run up to this summer's World Cup 10,000 vans crossed the Channel in May - the highest number since the introduction of the single market in 1993
  • In a pre-Christmas crackdown in 1996, 500 customs officers raided 100 business and homes throughout the UK in connection with an alleged multi-million pound fraud and made 40 arrests.

    Siezed in the past year by Customs and Excise:

    • £35.56m of drugs in southern England
    • £2.6m revenue worth of alcohol, tobacco and cigarettes
    • 47 vehicles involved in revenue smuggling
    • 487 seizures of indecent or obscene material, firearms and ammunition, endangered species and other restricted or prohibited items
    • Also identified were 62 cases of VAT avoidance were involving a potential revenue loss of £9.5 million

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