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November 9th, 2009:

State steps up smuggling fight with €1.5m x-ray scanner

China introduce new technology to tackle cigarette smuggling.

China introduce new technology to tackle cigarette smuggling.

A HIGH-powered scanner costing €1.48m has been ordered by the Government from China as part of its efforts to clampdown on cigarette smugglers.

The mobile scanner, ordered in advance of the recent record haul in Dundalk, Co Louth, has now arrived and will become fully operational in January.

The scanner uses high-energy x-rays to generate an image of a full container or trailer at ports.

A similar scanner is already in place but the new system from Nuctech is considered more advanced by the Revenue Commissioners.

Earlier this month, nine people were arrested after a ship containing 120 million cigarettes worth €50m was seized in Co Louth, following a massive surveillance operation.

The haul, with a potential revenue loss of €40m, was destined for the Irish and UK markets.

It is regarded as the biggest seizure of its type in Europe and described as organised crime on a global scale. the contraband was uncovered after a chartered ship arrived at Greenore Port.

Those who sell illegal cigarettes should face increased fines of at least €10,000 as the State is haemorrhaging around €500m a year in lost revenue because of cigarette smuggling, according to Fine Gael justice spokesperson Charlie Flanagan TD.

The frontbench spokesman last night claimed the average penalty of €423 for trading in illegal cigarettes is “farcical and does not act as a deterrent”. A mandatory fine of €10,000 would be more appropriate, he argued.

“The supply chain that sees illegal cigarettes hitting our streets at knock-down prices must be broken. The current fine of €423 for dealing in illegal cigarettes is a useless deterrent,” he said.


“The Government must send a message to the middlemen who trade illegally in tobacco by imposing hefty fines. If this does not happen the incentive to import cigarettes illegally will remain.”

Ireland‘s criminal gangs are being sustained by a combination of cigarette and drug smuggling, he said.

An estimated 20pc of cigarettes bought in Ireland are purchased on the black market.

Last year, the authorities impounded some 134 million cigarettes but estimates suggest that 826 million cigarettes go undetected annually.