From: Daily Mail
- The smugglers had 3,800 cigarettes stashed in their waistcoats
- They had specially adapted deep pockets to conceal the large packets
- Almost 24,000 cigarettes were found in their hand luggage
- Border officials said it was an ‘unusual and quite convincing’ concealment
By Becky Evans
Tobacco smugglers who hid thousands of illicit cigarettes in specially adapted waistcoats on a flight from Lithuania were caught out because fellow passengers thought they were wearing ‘fat suits’.
The three men stored large cartons in deep concealed pockets but their bizarre appearance, with bulky objects protruding from their under their jackets, led officers and passengers to become suspicious.
UK border officials found 3,800 cigarettes stashed on their bodies when they were searched at Leeds Bradford International Airport.
A further 23,700 smuggled cigarettes were then found in their luggage.
Passengers had raised concerns about the strange appearance of the three men during the flight on Tuesday, May 28.
Border officials also became suspicious that two male passengers arriving on a flight from Vilnius, Lithuania, were wearing bulky and ill-fitting jackets.
They were searched at just after 11pm, along with a third Lithuanian man travelling with them.
Sam Bullimore, assistant director for Border Force North, said: ‘This was an unusual concealment, and on the face of it quite convincing, but our expert officers are trained to expect the unexpected.’
He said criminal gangs often use the proceeds of tobacco smuggling to fund serious organised crime.
Mr Bullimore said: ‘By stopping these shipments we are starving them of the proceeds of their criminality.
‘Tobacco smuggling also deprives the economy of significant revenue at a time when the country can least afford it.
‘I would urge anyone tempted by cheap cigarettes and tobacco to think again.
‘The black market cheats honest traders.
‘It is totally unregulated so buyers have no way of knowing what they are actually getting and, worst of all, further up the supply chain serious criminals are reaping the rewards.’
Officers found 3,800 cigarettes concealed in adapted pouches on the front and back of two waistcoats worn by the men.
The trio were also carrying 23,700 cigarettes in their hand luggage, making a total of 27,500.