CUSTOMS and Excise officers last night claimed a significant success in their war against smugglers after 13,000 cigarettes were recovered during a raid on a club car park.

In a joint operation with Cleveland Police, ten customs officers raided the car park, in Stockton, on Friday night, targeting people selling smuggled cigarettes, tobacco and alcohol from parked vehicles.

Three cars, 13,000 cigarettes, 6.5 kilos of hand-rolling tobacco and 45 litres of spirits were seized at the car park and from subsequent house searches.

One man was arrested for public order offences.

HM Customs spokesman Rob Hastings-Trew said: "We are aware there is a temptation to buy cheap goods, particularly in the run-up to Christmas.

"However, we warn those who are tempted that what they buy may well be counterfeit. We recently seized 22 tonnes of cheap tobacco from China and, earlier this year, considerable quantities of methylated spirits described as vodka and whisky.