Shocked authorities today gave their reaction as Customs continues to probe the discovery of an illegal tobacco factory in the heart of Lancashire.
Customs chiefs have launched a probe after an industrial unit in Burscough, thought to have links to Hungarian nationals, was found to be housing a sohpisticated tobacco factory manufacturing a fake brand specifically for the black market.
More disturbing pictures of the filthy factory have been released showing the conditions the products were being packaged in
The raid came as the Evening Post continues its Don’t Let Them Make a Packet Campaign, which is raising awareness of the dangers to the community caused by the unscrupulous criminals behind Lancashire’s illicit tobacco trade.
Lee Ormandy, Lancashire’s lead trading standards officer responsible for the informal economy, said: “This action reiterates the fact that people selling illicit tobacco are not the Robin Hood figures they try to pass themselves off as.
“In fact these rogue traders are facilitating serious criminal activity as well as causing major damage to local legitimate traders trying to make an honest living within their local communities.”
Gary Murray, North West regional manager for Crimestoppers, added: “We are delighted to work with the Lancashire Evening Post on this campaign and this seizure shows the importance of this campaign in improving health and fighting serious and organised crime.
“We would urge those in the community who know about the illegal distribution of illicit tobacco to contact us - together we can really make a difference”.
Tobacco industry figures have also welcomed the raid.
Peter Osborne, regional manager of the Tobacco Manufacturers Association, said: “This type of illegal tobacco haul is an ever present reminder of what we are facing. The fact that this is a tobacco factory right in our back yard just shows how widespread the threat is to legitimate retailers, communities and especially young people who will be targeted by unscrupulous dealers. We are working hard with enforcement agencies and businesses to address the illicit tobacco problem but there is much to do.”
Jeremy Blackburn, of Japan International Tobacco, said: “Congratulations to HMRC on this noteworthy seizure and to the Evening Post for raising this issue with their campaign – this has certainly stopped one group of criminals making a packet this Christmas.”