Detectives from Belfast Criminal Investigation Branch investigating organised criminality have carried out 18 searches across Belfast, Derry, Dundonald and Banbridge in conjunction with officers from the HMRC and FACT (The Federation Against Copyright Theft) earlier today (Wednesday, December 6).

During the searches they seized over 8,000 cigarettes, 2.9 kgs of rolling tobacco, 232 cigars, 50 illegal streaming devices and approximately £5,000 in cash.

Two males were arrested during the multi-agency operation.

One 48-year-old man arrested on suspicion of conspiracy to defraud in the Galliagh area of Derry has been bailed pending further enquiries.

A 31-year-old male arrested in the Dundonald area on suspicion of conspiracy to defraud and possessing articles for use in fraud is currently helping with police enquiries.

Detective Inspector Natalie McNally said: “The joint operation today is a further demonstration of our determination to tackle organised crime and those that gain from it.

“Buying cheap counterfeit goods, cigarettes or tobacco products, which have been purchased without the relevant duty being paid, or illegal streaming devices - all of which may appear to be bargains - means that revenue to the legitimate economy is lost. This criminal activity puts jobs at risk and, ultimately, in terms of duty evasion, means there is less money available to provide for our public services, like health and education.

“There is also a wealth of evidence that shows money made from the sale of counterfeit goods is used to fund other forms of crime, so there really is no such thing as victimless crime. We all end up paying the price.”

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