A bid to smuggle eight million cigarettes into Northern Ireland has been thwarted by Border Force.
The detection - the biggest single seizure in six years - was made at Belfast Port on Saturday (February 3), but details have only been revealed today.
Officers searched a 40-foot container that had arrived at the port on a ship from Singapore.
The load was listed as bed linen with a delivery address in County Down but during the search officers discovered 40 pallets with a total of 800 boxes containing the cigarettes.
According to the Home Office, had the smuggling attempt not been prevented it could have cost the Treasury approximately £2.6 m in unpaid duty and VAT.
John Oldham, Assistant Director for Border Force Northern Ireland, said: “This is a significant seizure, the biggest my officers have made at the port in six years. By stopping the shipment Border Force has starved those responsible of the proceeds of their criminality.
“The black market cheats honest traders and it is effectively stealing from the public purse money that could be used to pay for healthcare, education and other services.
“People tempted by cheap cigarettes and tobacco should think again.”