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Hawks snuff out fake cigarette syndicate

The Hawks seized R4 million worth of illegal cigarettes.

FILE: Authorities discover a truck containing illegal cigarettes. Picture: Supplied.

JOHANNESBURG - The Hawks on Wednesday said they had "broken the back" of a major syndicate specialising in illegal cigarettes in Gauteng.

Four men were arrested on Tuesday in Midrand and Centurion in connection with the group's activities.

Hawks spokesperson Paul Ramaloko said they confiscated cigarettes worth R4 million from a warehouse in Modderfontein, Ekurhuleni.

"The suspects are believed to be part of a bigger syndicate but we are confident that we managed to dismantle it."

The men will appear in a Pretoria court on Thursday to face charges related to the Tobacco Product Act.

Ramaloko said officers also found around 8000 litres of ethanol worth R500,000. It is believed the liquid was to be used to produce illegal alcohol.

The operation included the police, South African Revenue Service and the Johannesburg Metro Police Department.