Customs officers in the UK have smashed what is thought to be a major illegal alcohol trading scam involving senior employees in the drink trade. According to customs officials, the smuggling operation has defrauded the country of £30m in tax.

Some 50 premises were raided and nine arrests were made as officers from HM Customs & Excise swooped following months of investigation. The scam involved diverting alcohol supposedly destined for export - and not subject to UK tax - to outlets within the UK.

Robert Buxton of HM Customs & Excise said: "Some of the people involved have been in quite senior levels at bonded warehouses and cash & carries and hauliers."