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Table top tobacco crime gang sentenced

Press Release   •   Jan 30, 2017 09:03 GMT

Table top tobacco crime gang sentenced - Cigarettes hidden inside and shown on table top (SE 01.17)

Six members of an organised crime network, which smuggled almost three million illicit cigarettes into the UK hidden in hollowed-out table tops, have been sentenced for their role in evading more than £657,000 in taxes. Four of the men were jailed for a total of ten years and two months.

DominikMrzyglod, 37, the ringleader, and William Jurado, 68, were arrested by HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) investigators as they observed the men loading cigarettes into a white van at a rented industrial unit in Quarryside Business Park, Redhill, Surrey in June 2014.

Officers seized more than one million Jin Ling and Blue Fest cigarettes, worth in excess of £240,000 in unpaid excise duty, plus 81 pouches of counterfeit ‘Golden Virginia’ hand-rolling tobacco. The cigarettes, which had been smuggled by lorry from Poland hidden inside hollowed-out table tops, were seized from the storage facility and from the van.

Friad Mahmoud, 45, was arrested in Enfield, London in November 2014. He was identified as the person who had rented the van the men were loading in Surrey.

In April 2015 Marek Czwartkiewicz, 38, MichalKoc, 37, Ismail Mohamoud, 34, and DominikMrzyglod were arrested by HMRC officers after a second operation.

Investigations revealed that between January and April 2015 at least 1.74 million cigarettes were smuggled into the UK by lorry, and offloaded at a rented storage unit at New Road Industrial Estate, Sheerness, Kent.

In March 2015 Ismail Mohamoud was stopped by Metropolitan Police officers in London. 512,800 Viceroy and Brendal cigarettes, worth more than £123,000 in excise duty, were found in the back of the silver van he was driving.

In April 2015 HMRC investigators seized in excess of 1.2 million Jin Ling, Em@il and other branded cigarettes at the Sheerness storage unit. Again the cigarettes had been smuggled inside table tops. More than £292,000 in duty was evaded.

David Margree, Assistant Director, Fraud Investigation Service, HMRC, said:

“This was a brazen and well-planned criminal operation aiming to flood the UK with illegal cigarettes smuggled inside table tops, which would have ripped off taxpayers and honest retailers. The gang members thought this scam would avoid detection, but we exposed their crimes and they are now paying the price.

“HMRC continues to work with other enforcement agencies to reduce the availability of illicit tobacco, which costs the UK around £2.4 billion a year, steals from communities and harms the livelihood of legitimate retailers. We encourage anyone with information regarding the smuggling, storage or sale of illegal tobacco to contact our 24-hour Hotline on 0800 59 5000.”

Friad Mahmoud, William Jurado, MichalKoc and Ismail Mohamoud were found guilty at Blackfrairs Crown Court on 13 December 2016, after a three-week trial. DominikMrzyglod, the controller on the fraud, pleaded guilty to his crimes. Marek Czwartkiewicz pleaded guilty to his involvement in the Sheerness operation. A seventh man was acquitted.

Upon sentencing the men, His Honour Judge Peter Clarke QC, said:

“It was abundantly clear that this was a sophisticated international scheme, which by nature must have evaded millions of pounds in duty.”

Four of the men were jailed for a total of ten years and two months at Blackfriars Crown Court on Friday 27 January 2017. Two others received suspended prison sentences.

Investigators estimate around 120,000 cigarettes were smuggled inside each table top.

Notes for Editors

  1. Dominik MRZYGLOD,DOB 20/03/1979, the ringleader, of Sunset Place, Walton on Thames, Surrey when the investigation began.He pleaded guilty to the fraudulent evasion of excise duty, contrary to sections 170(2) and (3) of the Customs and Excise Management Act 1979, in relation to:
  • 1,005,780 cigarettes seized in June 2014
  • 4.05 kilos of hand rolling tobacco seized in June 2014

    and conspiracy to fraudulently evade duty, contrary to section 1(1) of the Criminal Law Act 1977 between January and April 2015.

    He was jailed for four years on each count to run concurrently.

2. William JURADO, DOB 03/03/1948, of Vineyard Close, Kingston upon Thames, London.He was found guilty of the fraudulent evasion of excise duty, contrary to sections 170(2) and (3) of the Customs and Excise Management Act 1979, in relation to:

  • 1,005,780 cigarettes seized in June 2014
  • 4.05 kilos of hand rolling tobacco seized in June 2014

    He was sentenced to 12 months imprisonment, suspended for two years. He must also complete 120 hours of unpaid work, and is subject to a two month curfew.

3. Friad MAHMOUD,DOB 01/07/1971, of Streamside Close, Edmonton, London. He was found guilty of the fraudulent evasion of excise duty, contrary to sections 170(2) and (3) of the Customs and Excise Management Act 1979, in relation to:

  • 1,005,780 cigarettes seized in June 2014
  • 4.05 kilos of hand rolling tobacco seized in June 2014

    He was sentenced to 12 months imprisonment, suspended for two years. He must also complete 120 hours of unpaid work, and is subject to a two month curfew.

4. MarekCZWARTKIEWICZ, DOB 08/02/1978, of Wye Valley Road, Peterborough, Cambridgeshire. He pleaded guilty to:

  • conspiracy to fraudulently evade duty, contrary to section 1(1) of the Criminal Law Act 1977 between January and April 2015.
  • transferring criminal property, namely £1,370 in cash, contrary to section 327(1)(d) of the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002.
  • possessing criminal property, namely £1,000 in cash, contrary to section 329(1)(c) of the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002.

    He was jailed for 42 months.

5. MichalKOC, DOB 05/01/1980, of Wye Valley Road, Peterborough, Cambridgeshire. He was found guilty of conspiracy to fraudulently evade duty, contrary to section 1(1) of the Criminal Law Act 1977 between January and April 2015.

He was jailed for 18 months.

6. Ismail MOHAMOUD, DOB 06/07/1982, of Streamside Close, Edmonton, London. He was found guilty of conspiracy to fraudulently evade duty, contrary to section 1(1) of the Criminal Law Act 1977 between January and April 2015.

He was jailed for 14 months.

7. £240,984 in excise duty was evaded on the one million (1,005,780) cigarettes (634,600 Blue Fest and 371,180 Jin Ling), and £730 duty evaded on the 4.05 kilos of hand-rolling tobacco, seized in Redhill, Surrey, in June 2014.

8. At least 1.74 million (1,743,760) cigarettes were smuggled between January and April 2015, evading £416,111 in excise duty, including:

  • 512,800 Viceroy cigarettes seized from the van driven by Mohamoud in March 2015, evading £123,739 in excise duty.
  • 1,230,960 cigarettes (809,800 Em@il, 385,500 Jin Ling and 35,660 of mixed brands) seized from a Sheerness storage unit, evading £292,372 in excise duty.

9. Photographs are available from HMRC’s Flickr channelwww.flickr.com/hmrcgovuk

10. Anyone with information about people suspected of smuggling, selling or storing illegal tobacco should contact our hotline on 0800 59 5000 or report it online at: https://www.gov.uk/report-tobacco-or-alcohol-tax-evasion

11. Follow HMRC 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.