Men held over suspected £120m tobacco fraud

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Five men from the West Midlands have been arrested as part of an investigation into a suspected £120m tobacco smuggling fraud.

They were held after a series of early morning raids in Smethwick, West Bromwich and Great Barr on Thursday.

Around 130 HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) investigators searched 10 homes and three businesses.

It said the arrests were part of a long-running investigation called Operation Dardanelle.

Police arrested two men from Smethwick, aged 39 and 41, and two men, aged 37 and 39, from Great Barr.

Another man, aged 39 from West Bromwich, was also held.

"Operation Dardanelle is an HMRC investigation targeting what we believe to be the organised smuggling of cigarettes and tobacco," Colin Booker, assistant director of criminal investigation, said.

The arrests followed recent seizures of 16 million cigarettes and £600,000 in cash, HMRC said.

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