Counterfeit cigarette factory close to border closed down

Eleven men were arrested when the factory in Co Louth was raided
Eleven men were arrested when the factory in Co Louth was raided

A black market cigarette factory has been found not far from the Republic of Ireland-Northern Ireland border.

Revenue officers from the Republic, plus members of An Garda Síochana, dismantled the illicit factory in Jenkinstown, Co Louth.

An image from inside the plant

An image from inside the plant

The area is just north-east of Dundalk, and is several miles south of Jonesborough in south Armagh.

Also discovered at the site were living quarters.

In a statement accompanying the raid, the Irish authorities said: “This is the first time a commercial illicit cigarette production plant was discovered in the state, and the factory was in full operation when revenue officers and the armed support unit of An Garda Síochana entered the premises just before eight o’clock this morning.

“Eleven men, all of them from eastern Europe and aged in their late 20s to late 50s, were arrested by Gardaí and brought to Dundalk Garda station.

The plant was capable of producing 250,000 cigarettes an hour

The plant was capable of producing 250,000 cigarettes an hour

“Revenue officers found more than 40 tonnes of tobacco, all the pre-cursor components for the manufacture of cigarettes, and approximately 25 million cigarettes, branded ‘Mayfair’, ready for distribution.

“This was a sophisticated self-contained operation with machinery capable of producing 250,000 illicit cigarettes per hour and pre-processing, processing and packaging facilities, along with living quarters.

“Illicit cigarettes that originated in this factory have previously been seized in both Ireland and the UK.

“If the finished cigarettes seized at the factory today had reached the Irish market, the estimated loss to the exchequer would have been approximately €12m.”

It added: “Investigations are ongoing, nationally and internationally.”