POLICE found a copy of a magazine detailing customs officers' fight against tobacco smuggling in the North-East home of a man accused of a fraud in which 2.6m cigarettes were illegally shipped into the UK, it was alleged yesterday.

The magazine was found at Carlo Citrone's home in Springwell Village, near Gateshead, after he was arrested with haulage company boss William Howard, Tees-side Crown Court heard.

The pair are both accused of evading £413,587 in excise duty after allegedly masterminding an operation to smuggle the cigarettes to the North-East from Cambodia.

Jonathan Carroll, prosecuting, said the search of Mr Citrone's house had uncovered what he called a "review" magazine, which gave details of measures customs officials were taking against tobacco smugglers. This was of interest to police because of their suspicions over Mr Citrone, he said.

The trial has heard that four crates packed full of cigarettes were found by customs at Southampton docks on March 19, 2002. They were due to be taken to a warehouse leased to Mr Howard in Newton Aycliffe, County Durham.

A joint customs and police operation was then set up to monitor the delivery of the cigarettes to Aycliffe, which led to the men being arrested.

Mr Citrone, 38, and Mr Howard, 41, of Eldon Banks, Bishop Auckland, had known each other for more than 15 years through contacts in the fitness and body building trade, the court was told.

Both men deny the charges. The trial continues.