Investigations by HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) have found that a warehouse in Sandbach was used as a distribution hub by international cigarette smugglers in an £840,000 tax fraud.
HMRC officers observed a suspicious delivery at the Millbuck Way site when a heavy goods vehicle (HGV) arrived towing a curtain-sided trailer and reversed up to the unit at the Springvale Industrial Estate in July 2016.
The HMRC officers caught Hadayatullah Meahrabi, 20, from Croydon, and Willem Peele, 56, from Holland, in the middle of unloading more than three million smuggled illegal cigarettes from the HGV. Further illegal cigarettes were found intentionally hidden behind boxes of ice-cream cones and biscuits in the unit.
After their arrest at the rented warehouse, the two Dutch nationals were remanded into custody and after pleading guilty to tax fraud were jailed for a total of five years yesterday at Chester Crown Court.
Notes to Editors
1.Hadayatullah Meahrabi, dob 01/07/96, unemployed of Lodge Road, Croydon, pleaded guilty on 23 August 2016 to the fraudulent evasion of Excise Duty contrary to the Customs and Excise Management Act (CEMA) 1979. He was sentenced to two years jail. Meahrabi also had a holdall containing £4,000 in cash at the unit which was seized by HMRC officers under Proceeds of Crime powers – the cash was forfeited to the Crown at a POCA hearing on 17 February at Manchester Magistrates Court.
2.Willem Pieter Peele, dob 07/04/60, a self-employed mechanic, of Reinond 3, Vianen, Utrecht, Holland, pleaded guilty on 16 January 2017 to the fraudulent evasion of Excise Duty contrary to the Customs and Excise Management Act (CEMA) 1979. He was sentenced to three years jail.
3.HMRC seized a total of 3,289,160 illegal cigarettes in the unit and trailer which included:
-190,000 counterfeit Lambert & Butler cigarettes
-1,200,000 Jims Filter King cigarettes (not sold in the UK)
-909,160 Richman cigarettes
-990,000 Gold Classics cigarettes (not sold in the UK)
4.The duty evasion on the cigarettes is £837,371.59.
5.Follow HMRC Press Office on Twitter @HMRCpressoffice
6.HMRC's Flickr channel: www.flickr.com/hmrcgovuk
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.