Page last updated at 15:53 GMT, Wednesday, 29 July 2009 16:53 UK

9m cigarettes are seized at docks

Smuggled cigarettes
Six million cigarettes were found in a trailer on Wednesday

More than nine million suspected counterfeit cigarettes have been seized in freight containers at Belfast docks over the last 24 hours.

About 3.5 million John Player Special cigarettes were found on Tuesday night by the UK Border Agency concealed in two containers under a load of granite.

On Wednesday morning officers uncovered six million mixed-brand cigarettes in a trailer containing peppers.

A man from County Armagh was arrested by Customs after the second find.

The cigarettes have an estimated duty loss of almost £2m.

The brands found in the second batch included Benson and Hedges and Marlboro.

John Whiting, of HM Revenue and Customs said: "Tobacco smuggling is not a victimless crime.

Cigarettes in boxes
The cigarettes were in boxes hidden amongst a cover load of peppers

"The huge profits reaped from the sales of illegal cigarettes are ploughed straight back into the criminal underworld, feeding activities like drug dealing and fraud.

"Purchasing cheap cigarettes without the duty paid on them means trading with criminals, and undermining honest businesses."

Maggie Eyden, of the UK Border Agency in Northern Ireland said: "UKBA and HMRC are committed to stamping out the problem of cigarette and tobacco smuggling.

"This criminal activity undermines public health by creating a cheap and unregulated supply."

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