26/02/2019

Almost 30,000 Cigarettes Seized By PSNI In INLA Crackdown

Police investigating the activities of the INLA (Irish National Liberation Army) have seized a significant amount of illicit cigarettes and tobacco in L'Derry.

Searches of seven shops in the city uncovered almost 30,000 cigarettes and 20 kilograms of tobacco, along with other counterfeit goods and mobile phones.

A 65-year-old male was arrested on suspicion of fraudulent evasion of excise duty in respect of 10,280 illicit cigarettes and 14.45 kilograms of tobacco seized from a shop in Gallaigh. He has been released pending a report to the Public Prosecution Service.
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Detective Inspector Tom McClure of the PSNI's Organised Crime Unit said: "INLA in Derry/Londonderry use brutality, threats and fear to exert control and behind the scenes are involved in a wide range of criminal money-making 'rackets' to line their own pockets. One strand of their criminality is the importation and supply of illicit cigarettes into the North West and these illegal products are then distributed via a network of local shops and suppliers. For this reason we requested assistance from our partners in HMRC for today's operation.

"I am very concerned that 7 of the 11 shops visited today were found to have illicit cigarettes on their premises, meaning that these illegal products have been found in a total of 17 different shops in the Derry/Londonderry and Strabane area since the start of December. Retailers who stock and sell illicit cigarettes to the public should think carefully about the potential implications upon conviction. They and customers who knowingly purchase illicit cigarettes should be aware that they may be indirectly funding INLA terrorism and criminality which brings harm to local communities, for their own selfish gains."

The PSNI were supporting an HMRC operation. Assistant Director at the Fruad Investigation Service, Steve Tracey added: "Working together in partnership with other enforcement colleagues we can target the criminal gangs who are stealing from the taxpayer, robbing public services and undermining legitimate, honest traders."



(JG/CM)


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