AN ILLEGAL tobacco factory has been discovered in Bishop’s Waltham.
The site was raided by HM Revenue & Customs officers who found tobacco along with counterfeit tobacco pouches, duty labels and processing machinery.
It was uncovered after two men – a 36-year-old from Portsmouth, and a 28-year-old from Glasgow – were arrested at a Warwickshire Police-led road check at Warwick Services on the M40 on November 17.
During that check officers found about half a tonne of tobacco in a van.
The men were each arrested on suspicion of being involved in the fraudulent evasion of excise duty.
The men arrested have been interviewed by HMRC and released on bail until May.
The seized tobacco could have filled 30,000 standard 50g tobacco pouches and HMRC said about £300,000 of duty has been evaded.
John Cooper, assistant director of criminal investigation at HMRC said: ‘We have uncovered and closed down an illegal tobacco processing operation.
‘Disrupting criminal trade is at the heart of our strategy to clamp down on the illicit tobacco market, which costs the UK around £2.1bn a year in lost revenue. This is theft from the taxpayer and undermines legitimate traders.’
Samples of the tobacco will be analysed and the rest will be destroyed to fuel the National Grid.
A spokesman for Warwickshire Police said: ‘This operation highlights the importance of our continued partnership with HMRC and DVSA to help stamp out organised crime.
‘The sale and supply of illicit tobacco is a serious criminal offence, the profits of which often help to fund the activities of criminal gangs.
‘We carry out road operations to reduce the risks to drivers, other road users, the public and the emergency services.’