Three men have been charged after 4.2 million suspected illicit cigarettes were seized from a warehouse by customs officials.
The goods found in the building in Glasgow are believed to be worth an estimated £1.6 million in lost duty and taxes, HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) said.
Further inquiries led to the discovery of a tobacco factory in Hamilton, South Lanarkshire, where two industrial mixing machines, a tobacco shredding machine, packaging and 45kg of tobacco were seized and the operation was dismantled.
Three residential properties in Airdrie, North Lanarkshire, were also searched and about £20,000 in cash was seized from one of them.
HMRC said three men from Airdrie, aged 25, 30 and 34, were arrested and charged with excise duty fraud and money laundering offences in an operation supported by Police Scotland.
Joe Hendry, assistant director of HMRC’s fraud investigation service, said: “This is another example of the combined powers our partners at the Scottish Crime Campus and Serious Organised Crime Taskforce have to disrupt, detect and deter the illicit trade of tobacco and other forms of criminality.
“Tackling criminal trade is at the heart of our strategy to clamp down on the illicit tobacco market, which costs the UK around £1.9 billion a year.
“This is theft from the taxpayer and undermines legitimate traders.
“We encourage anyone with information about the illegal sale of cigarettes to report it to HMRC online at gov.uk or call our fraud hotline on 0800 788 887.”
As part of the operation, 50 HMRC officers executed several warrants across Glasgow and Lanarkshire on Thursday November 19 along with eight colleagues from Police Scotland.
The three men who were charged have been released pending further investigation and a report will be submitted to the procurator fiscal in due course.