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Gun and ammunition seized as police arrest 19 in series of raids related to money laundering and illegal tobacco allegations

PUBLISHED: 12:23 28 March 2018 | UPDATED: 16:12 28 March 2018

Raids take place in King's Lynn and Swaffham. Photo: James Bass.

Raids take place in King's Lynn and Swaffham. Photo: James Bass.

Archant Norfolk Photographic © 2014

A series of raids carried out in parts of King's Lynn and Swaffham in relation to the illegal importation of tobacco and money laundering has led to 19 arrests.

A joint investigation between Police and HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) officers led to the execution of warrants at 22 addresses on Tuesday.

Officers seized a quantity of Class A drugs, a firearm and ammunitions, jewellery, electrical equipment and five vehicles - two Range Rovers, a BMW, a Mercedes and a Ford KA.

Thirteen men and six women, all aged between 20 and 58-years-old, were arrested in connection with illegal importation of tobacco, money laundering and possession of criminal property.

They are all from the King’s Lynn and Swaffham areas.

Detective Superintendent Steve Mattin, head of the Norfolk and Suffolk Cyber, Intelligence and Serious Crime Unit, said: “Today’s activity is the result of our strong partnership with our HMRC colleagues, that has seen this lengthy investigation unfold today with almost 100 officers from the police and HMRC targeting and disrupting those suspected of being involved in organised criminal activity.

“This sends a strong message to our communities that we will not tolerate those who look to gain from organised crime.”

Seventeen of those arrested have since been released under investigation whilst enquiries are ongoing.

One man remains in custody and one woman is due to be interviewed by officers.

Superintendent Dave Buckley, local policing commander for King’s Lynn and West Norfolk, said: “This operation demonstrates our resolve to work with partners in disrupting criminal gangs who operate locally.

“Our priority is keeping our communities safe and dealing with organised crime is part of this.

“Police in the Kings Lynn area will continue to target those who commit crime and exploit vulnerable people.”

Mark Cox, assistant director of the HMRC Fraud Investigation Service, added: “The sale of illegal tobacco and wider criminality will not be tolerated by us or our partner agencies.

“Disrupting criminal trade is at the heart of our strategy to clampdown on the illicit tobacco market, which costs the UK around £2.5 billion a year.

“Those dealing in illicit tobacco are harming honest businesses and stealing money from the public services we all rely on.”

Anyone with information about the sale of illegal tobacco is asked to report it to HMRC online or contact the fraud hotline on 0800 788 887.

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