Customs & Excise has smashed the biggest alcohol and tobacco smuggling operation ever detected in the south west of England. The announcement came after four members of a family from Cullompton, Devon, were sentenced to a total of seven years in jail after they admitted conspiring to evade payment of duty on smuggled alcohol and tobacco. Customs estimated that during a 16-month period, from June 1998 to October 1999, they made 105 trips to France and Belgium, and evaded approximately £365,000 in duty on goods sold to friends and family in Cullompton. So frequent were their Channel crossings that they were able to qualify for and use Eurostar loyalty cards. A Customs spokesman said: "This smuggling ring will have seriously affected shopkeepers in the Cullompton area. This is the biggest ever case of organised alcohol and tobacco smuggling in the south west." {{NEWS }}