Three men have been arrested and eight million suspected illicit cigarettes seized during an operation in County Armagh.
Officers from HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) attended a property in Newry on Saturday morning along with colleagues from the PSNI.
The arrests and seizures were made at the scene.
HMRC said the tobacco products are worth an estimated £3m in lost taxes and duties.
The arrested men are aged 34, 37 and 55 years old.
A heavy goods vehicle and its refrigerated unit, a van and a fork lift truck were also seized along with approximately £12,000 and €2,000.
HMRC said the operation led to a further seven searches – 1 business property and six residential addresses – across the border in Carlingford, County Louth, carried out by Ireland’s Revenue Commissioners and An Garda Síochána, with almost €100,000, thousands of duty stamps and approximately two and a half tonnes of hand rolling tobacco being confiscated.
One articulated lorry, one rigid lorry, two trailers and one van were also seized. along with mobile fuel-laundering machinery which was concealed in a lorry.
Steve Tracey, HMRC’s assistant director, Fraud Investigation Service, said investigations like this show “what can be achieved by our ongoing cross-jurisdictional cooperation to tackle criminality”.
“Our collaboration, even during a global pandemic, demonstrates that we are committed to working with each other, at every level and in every location to tackle organised crime on a cross border basis.”
PSNI Det Supt Rowan Moore said those trading in illicit cigarettes “may be funding terrorism and criminality”.
“[This] brings misery and harm to local communities and today’s action sends a powerful message to those engaged in this type of criminality.”