Two men and a woman have been jailed for attempting to smuggle more than two tonnes of tobacco into the UK hidden inside a lorry load of felt-tip pens.
HGV driver Mark Sneidr, 26, was stopped by Border Force officers at Dover in February 2014 as he disembarked a ferry from Calais. Officers searched his lorry and found 2.2 tonnes of tobacco concealed among the cargo of Crayola branded pens.
Officers stopped a car arriving on the same ferry containing Sasa Saale, 33 and Juraj Gabor, 44. HM Revenue and Customs’ (HMRC) enquiries confirmed all three were involved in smuggling the tobacco into the UK and attempting to evade £367,245 in excise duty and VAT.
David Margree, Assistant Director, Criminal Investigation, HMRC, said:
“Smugglers like these undermine legitimate tobacco traders and steal from UK taxpayers.
“I would encourage anyone with information about the smuggling, sale or distribution of illicit tobacco to contact the Customs Hotline on 0800 59 5000.”
Saale and Sneidr pleaded guilty to evading excise duty but Gabor denied the charge. He was later found guilty by a jury at Maidstone Crown Court.
All three were sentenced at Maidstone Crown Court on 1 September 2014
Notes for editors
1. Marek Sneidr, a HGV driver, of Boleslav, Czech Republic, DOB 12.11.87, pleaded guilty to evasion of duty on tobacco and was sentenced to two years and three months imprisonment.
2. Sasa Saale, of Boleslav, Czech Republic, DOB 06.10.80, pleaded guilty to evasion of duty due on tobacco and was sentenced to two years and three months imprisoment.
3. Juraj Gabor, of Boleslav, Czech Republic, DOB 05.11.69, was found guilty of evasion of duty due on tobacco and was sentenced to three years imprisonment.
4. The total quantity of tobacco seized was 2.26 tonnes and the duty and VAT evaded totalled £367,245.24.
5. Anyone with information about the smuggling, sale, storage or distribution of illicit tobacco can call the Customs Hotline on 0800 59 5000 or report it online at www.hmrc.gov.uk/reportingfraud/online.htm
6. Photos of the concealment can be found on HMRC’s Flickr channel www.flickr.com/hmrcgovuk
7. Follow HMRC on Twitter @HMRCgovuk
8. Follow HMRC's Press Office on Twitter @HMRCpressoffice
Issued by HM Revenue & Customs Press Office
HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) is the UK’s tax authority.
HMRC is responsible for making sure that the money is available to fund the UK’s public services and for helping families and individuals with targeted financial support.