UK’s largest illegal tobacco factory was in Crook, County Durham
THE masterminds behind a £10million fraud have been jailed after they were caught running the UK’s largest illegal tobacco factory – which could produce 140 packs of cigarettes a minute – in a County Durham town.
John Watson Snr, 47, who was a director of Doncaster Greyhound stadium, Terence Jacques, 60, and security guard Russell Haywood, 48, led a 12-man gang that made millions of counterfeit cigarettes which were distributed across the North of England.
HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) carried out coordinated raids at properties linked to the gang in County Durham and South Yorkshire in November 2015.
Officers discovered the largest tobacco factory ever encountered by HMRC inside a farm unit in Crook. The factory had more than 24 tonnes of tobacco inside, along with 500,000 cigarettes, old imperial tobacco machinery and products used to make the cigarettes. Officers also discovered caravans that were being used by the factory workforce.