Cigarette haul indicates flourishing illegal market, say retailers

The illegal cigarette market remains a big business for criminals, according to Retailers Against Smuggling (RAS).

Cigarette haul indicates flourishing illegal market, say retailers

The illegal cigarette market remains a big business for criminals, according to Retailers Against Smuggling (RAS).

The group, which represents 3,000 independent retailers across the country, was responding after a total of 13 million cigarettes - four million in Tyrone and nine million in Dublin - were seized by Revenue

officials.

"This is proof that the illegal market remains a massive business dominated by ruthless criminal gangs," said RAS spokesman Benny Gilsenan, who owns a shop in Emmet Street, Dublin.

"No matter what amount of spin politicians try to put on this, cigarette smuggling is one of the main cash cows for criminal gangs at home and abroad."

Mr Gilsenan also said that independent retailers depend on legal cigarette sales for 10% - 50% of their business, and that their shops were being massively undercut by the illegal trade.

"The criminals are laughing all the way to the bank with cigarette smuggling because the fines on conviction are rarely paid," he said.

RAS has recommended that the Government introduces attachment orders for fines for cigarette smuggling so that those convicted have their fines taken from their social welfare payments or wages.

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