Press release -
Cigarette smuggling gang jailed
Two men who tried to hide their criminal cash by stashing it inside their wardrobes have been jailed along with one other member of their cigarette smuggling gang, after an investigation by HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC). A fourth gang member will be sentenced next month.
The gang’s smuggling plot was foiled in October 2012 when HMRC officers watched Jan Wojcik from London and Pawel Pasnik from West Bromwich meet with the driver of a Polish HGV on a secluded country lane just off the M25.
Both men were arrested at the scene on suspicion of tobacco smuggling offences.
HMRC officers searched Wojcik’s black Mercedes car and found £14,000 in cash hidden inside a compartment in the boot. A search of his home revealed a further £15,240 hidden among the contents of his wardrobe.
A search of Pasnik’s home uncovered 16,000 Marlboro Gold duty free cigarettes and £76,000 wrapped in a bin liner, again hidden inside his wardrobe.
David Margree, Assistant Director, Criminal Investigation, HMRC, said:
“Cigarette smuggling and laundering the proceeds of crime are both serious offences and. HMRC takes robust action to detect, disrupt and bring those responsible before the courts. These offences have a devastating impact on honest retailers who have to compete with the black market and on the nation’s finances with around £2 billion lost in excise revenue each year.”
Seven months after his arrest and while still on bail, Wojcik was caught red-handed by HMRC officers as he delivered 53,000 duty free cigarettes to a London address. Wojcik was accompanied by Karolina Tomczyk from Middlesex and Polish lorry driver Maurisz Kardas. The cigarettes were estimated to be worth around £16,000 in lost excise duty and VAT.
Wojcik and Pasnik were later charged with money laundering and the fraudulent evasion of Excise Duty. Tonczyk and Karda were charged with the fraudulent evasion of Excise Duty.
All of the cash seized during the operation is currently subject to forfeiture proceedings.
Notes for editors
1. A photograph of the defendants and the tobacco and cash seized are available on request or from HMRC’s Flickr channel www.flickr.com/hmrcgovuk
2. Details of the defendant sentenced Friday (24 October 2014) at the Old Bailey:
· Jan Wojcik (DOB 24.03.73) a Polish national of Valletta Road, London W3, was found guilty and sentenced to three years and three months in prison.
· Pawel Pasnik (DOB 16.08.75) Polish national of Witton Lane, West Bromwich, West Midlands, was found guilty and sentenced to three years and six months in prison.
· Mariusz Kardas (DOB 14.04.82) a Polish national, not resident in the UK, was found guilty and sentenced to four months in prison.
· Karolina Tomczyk (DOB 04.07.87) of Burket Close, Southall, Middlesex UB2, sentencing was adjourned until 21 November 2014.
3. 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.