ATTEMPTS to smuggle more than a quarter of a million illicit cigarettes have been foiled in less than a week at the North-East’s biggest airport.

UK Border Agency officers made the seizures from passengers returning on four flights from the Canary Isles to Newcastle Airport in the past seven days.

Almost 70kg of hand rolling tobacco was also intercepted.

The haul, found among luggage of a dozen passengers, will be destroyed. The agency is now staging followup investigations.

Tony McMullin, the agency’s deputy director for Border Force North, said: “Tobacco smuggling such as this is also used to fund serious organised crime.”