ILLEGAL CIGARETTES EASILY BOUGHT IN TOWNS ACROSS CO MONAGHAN

20 November 2015 No Comments by The Northern Standard

By MICHAEL McDONNELL

michael@northern-standard.ie

ILLEGAL cigarette and tobacco products are readily obtainable in towns across Co Monaghan, and are selling at prices that are less than half of what consumers might expect to pay for similar quantities purchased through legitimate outlets.

During an undercover test purchasing operation in County Monaghan overseen by two former senior policemen on Wednesday of last week, a reporter and photographer from this newspaper witnessed a number of transactions in which illicit tobacco and cigarettes were obtained from sellers on the streets, and — on two occasions — from retail stores.

At a shop on the main street of one of the towns, this reporter accompanied a female undercover operative who purchased two 20-packs of cigarettes going under the bogus brand name “SK’s” for €4.50 each — a saving of €6 on the €10.50 retail price smokers have to pay for legitimate brands on which duty is paid.

While in a store in another town, the lady purchaser had earlier been handed two 50g pouches of Flandria tobacco for €13 each, which a man in the shop handed to her from behind other products that were on display. The transaction was viewed from outside the door of the premises by this reporter and recorded by our photographer.

The woman who bought the tobacco said the seller had cautioned her that he needed to be “careful”, as he could “get caught” for this.

These were contraband goods, i.e. genuine products from legitimate manufacturers that are smuggled into the country to avoid the payment of excise duty. The normal price for a 50g pouch would be about €25, meaning the end purchaser is saving €12, or close on half the price. Our undercover operative, however, said it was believed the seller would have paid only €4.70 for the packets, meaning that he, too, was making a handsome profit.

The covert test operation last Wednesday also resulted in purchases of tobacco pouches and cigarettes from on-street sellers.

At about 12 midday in Clones, a test purchase of contraband tobacco was made from a locally based on-street seller who, according to the investigators, appeared to have been well known for providing this particular service. While this writer did not witness the exchange, a reporter from another local newspaper has confirmed that they witnessed three 50g packets being sold for €37.50 (€12.50 each). The normal retail price for all three would range from €69 to €75.

Meanwhile, in Monaghan town’s Diamond Centre car park, we saw a male undercover operator of Lithuanian nationality purchase a ….

tobacco

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