Page last updated at 20:11 GMT, Wednesday, 28 October 2009

All nine freed after cigs seizure

Ship where cigarettes were found
The boat was taken to Dublin for unloading of the cigarettes

Nine men who were arrested after the seizure of 120m illegal cigarettes in the Republic of Ireland have all been released without charge.

Two men from County Armagh were among those detained on Tuesday when the cigarettes were seized on a ship off the County Louth coast.

Files are being sent to the Irish Director of Public Prosecutions.

Revenue officials and Irish police have begun unloading the haul which has been linked to cross border crime.

It has been described as the largest find of its type in Europe.

Customs officials in the Irish Republic said the cigarettes were worth about £45m.

About 150 law enforcement officers from both sides of the Irish border were involved in the operation.

The ship, which is called the MV Anne Scan, arrived in Dublin Port early on Wednesday morning.

The unloading of the cargo, which contains more than 1,400 one-tonne bags, began in the afternoon.

The cigarettes, which were loaded in the Philippines, were destined for markets in the Republic of Ireland and the UK.

Premises near the village of Knockbridge, just outside Dundalk, were searched on Tuesday night in connection with the operation.

It was there that seven of the nine men were arrested.

HM Revenue and Customs have said that the operation targeted a suspected organised crime group which was operating on both sides of the Irish border.

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