West Lothian crime: Five charged after raid of one of 'biggest' illegal tobacco factories in Scotland

One of Scotland’s biggest ever illegal tobacco factories has been dismantled after a raid in West Lothian.

Five people have been arrested and charged after an illegal tobacco factory, said to be one of the biggest ever in Scotland, was dismantled.

The "state-of-the-art” factory was uncovered in an operation by HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) and Police Scotland.

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Four men and one woman have been charged for alleged involvement after a raid on January 13 and police said investigations are ongoing.

Images supplied by HMRC

HMRC fraud said the sophisticated set up included expensive machinery and insulation to hide noise and smells.

Four tonnes of tobacco was recovered, worth an estimated £1 million in unpaid duty. Suspected counterfeit tobacco pouches were also found and seized.

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Joe Hendry, Assistant Director, Fraud Investigation Service, HMRC, said:

“This was one of the largest and most sophisticated tobacco factories we have ever uncovered in Scotland. We will continue to work with our law enforcement partners to target

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Photos from the raid carried out by HMRC and Police Scotland

anyone we suspect as being involved in the illicit tobacco trade.

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“The illicit tobacco trade steals money from our vital public services, undercuts legitimate businesses and can fund other crimes that harm our communities.

“We encourage anyone with information about the illegal sale of tobacco or alcohol to report it to HMRC online.”

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Detective Sergeant John Irvine, Police Scotland, said: “We will continue to work closely with our partners to disrupt, detect and deter anyone

involved in the illicit trade of illegal or counterfeit cigarettes and tobacco. We know that due to perceived higher profit margins, criminals can turn to the illicit trade in

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tobacco, which in turn can lead to other forms of criminality.

“If you have any information or concerns about illegal or counterfeit cigarettes or tobacco within the local community, please get in touch with HMRC or Police Scotland.

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Alternatively calls can be made to Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111 where anonymity can be maintained.”