Crackdown on smugglers

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The Independent Online
Companies who hire out vehicles used for smuggling tobacco and alcohol across the Channel face fines of up to pounds 10,000 in a crack down by customs officers.

Growing quantities of products, such as cigarettes, hand-rolling tobacco, beer and wine, are being smuggled into Britain without any duty being paid and then resold.

From today Customs and Excise will give vehicle rental firms a written warning if someone using one of the vans or cars is caught smuggling. If the company repeatedly rents out vehicles to the same person it can be fined up to pounds 10,000.

Diana Barrett, head of customs anti smuggling operation, said: "Excise smuggling is attracting the attention of people with criminal records. The term bootlegging romanticises what is in fact a full time activity for some very nasty individuals."