FOUR people have been arrested after Lancashire Constabulary carried out a series of co-ordinated dawn raids across the Fylde and in Padiham.
Around 40 officers were deployed as part of a major investigation by the Serious and Organised Crime Unit into the importation of contraband cigarettes and money laundering offences on Thursday 28 May 2009.
The operation – code named Bittern – began around 7 a.m. SOCU officers were joined by operational support units, financial investigators, dog teams and Neighbourhood Policing Teams.
Warrants were executed at addresses in Blackpool, Warton, Lytham and Stockbridge Road, Padiham.
A 46-year-old man from Padiham has been arrested on suspicion of tax evasion, money laundering and drugs offences.
A 38-year-old man from Blackpool and a 34-year-old man and a 29-year-old woman from Wesham, near Kirkham, have been arrested on suspicion of tax evasion and money laundering.
They are currently being held at police stations across Lancashire and will be interviewed by detectives later today.
Det. Insp. Jo Edwards, from Lancashire Constabulary's Serious and Organised Crime Unit, said: "This morning's raids are part of an on-going investigation into organised criminality within Lancashire. The investigation has been intelligence led and has been supported by a number of our partners.
"The people arrested are suspected of being involved in the planning and organising of a sophisticated transportation network from Europe into the United Kingdom, leading to a loss of revenues of several hundreds of thousands of pounds.
"Lancashire Constabulary is continually committed to dismantling such groups by seeking opportunities to disrupt their criminal activities whatever their nature."
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