As part of an intelligence-led operation codenamed Operation Claus, around 20 customs officers and two units of the armed Garda Regional Support Unit, discovered 200,000 contraband MG brand cigarettes hidden in the van when they stopped it at a checkpoint at Rathduff, on the main Cork-Mallow road at 8.30am.
A customs spokesman said three men, one in his 30s and two in their 40s, were detained and questioned at a Revenue office in Cork.
Two of the men are from the northside of Cork City and the third is from Youghal. The spokesman said they were later released and files are being prepared for the DPP.
He said the contraband cigarettes had a street value of €94,000 and potential loss to the Exchequer of €75,000.
In follow-up searches on Cork’s northside and in Youghal, €2,400 worth of Golden Virginia tobacco was also seized.
Meanwhile, customs officers at Dublin Airport yesterday seized €35,000 cash when they stopped and searched two Irish men, in their 20s and 30s, as they attempted to board a flight to Charleroi, Belgium.
The cash was concealed on the men and in their baggage. It was seized from them in accordance with the Proceeds of Crime (Amendment) Act 2005.
In two separate operations at Dublin Airport earlier this week, two men were arrested while attempting to smuggle a total of 44,560 cigarettes into the country from the Canary Islands.
Customs dog Frankie alerted officials to baggage containing the cigarettes.
A 22-year-old Latvian resident in Gran Canaria was found to be carrying 14,600 Ronhill cigarettes with a retail value of €6,658 and a potential loss to the exchequer of €5,244.
He was arrested and appeared before Judge Bryan Smyth, where he was remanded in custody to appear again in Cloverhill Court next Tuesday.
Customs officials also discovered 29,960 Ronhill cigarettes worth €13,663 in the baggage of Salvis Ansons, aged 36, a Latvian national resident in Tenerife.
He was arrested and sentenced to two months’ imprisonment.