Detectives have charged 16 people, including a man from Southwater, with plotting to steal millions of pounds worth of cigarettes from their company at Gatwick Airport, according to a police statement.
The statement adds that the 15 men and one woman have been charged jointly with stealing duty free cigarettes worth a total of £2,432,665 from Gate Gourmet, a business that supplies airlines at the airport.
They have been charged with conspiracy to steal from their employer and money laundering. They have all been released on bail to appear at Crawley Magistrates’ Court on May 6.
Police say that the charges follow a long running investigation by Sussex Police into the large-scale theft of duty free items at Gatwick.
The operation was run with the support of Gate Gourmet, which alerted Sussex Police to the issue after discovering irregularities with its stock. Suspects were arrested in a series of raids in July 2013.