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Tobacco smugglers fall foul of HMRC in smuggling attempt

Press release -

Tobacco smugglers fall foul of HMRC in smuggling attempt

Four men who smuggled 2.7 million cigarettes and over 774kg of tobacco into the UK, most of them hidden in a cover load of frozen chickens, have been sentenced.

In May 2013, HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) stopped a refrigerated lorry at business premises in Mitcham Road, Croydon, which had arrived in the country through Killingholme Port in North Lincolnshire. The lorry’s consignment was declared as frozen chicken but an examination found it contained 1.2 million illegal cigarettes. The cigarettes, worth an estimated £288,240 in lost revenue, had been professionally concealed within the load of frozen chicken pieces.

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

“This was a highly organised and professional tobacco smuggling plot designed to steal money from the public and undermine honest shopkeepers, with a sole purpose of lining their own pockets. These individuals went to great lengths to hide their illegal activity and thought that by lying their crime would have gone undetected. They were mistaken and will now have time to reflect on their criminal actions.

“HMRC is determined to disrupt this criminal trade which costs the UK around £2.1 billion a year. I ask anyone with information about the smuggling, distribution or sale of illicit cigarettes or tobacco to contact the Customs’ Hotline on 0800 59 5000”.

During follow-up searches of the London home and vehicle of one of the gang, Amjad Jassim, officers discovered a large quantity of smuggled tobacco - 315,950 cigarettes, 409kg of shisha tobacco and 365kg of hand rolling tobacco. Over £92,550 in cash was also discovered hidden throughout the house. The uncovered tobacco, with a revenue loss of around £164,688, was seized and the cash detained under the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002.

A further 2,460 non-UK duty paid cigarettes were seized from the home of a second defendant, Mariusz Dudek.

Confiscation proceedings to recover the proceeds of their crime are underway.

Notes for editors

1. Photographs of the defendants and goods seized are available on request or at HMRC’s flickr channel www.flickr.com/hmrcgovuk

2. Details of the defendants sentenced on 1 October 2015, at the Old Bailey:

  • Miroslaw Rogalksi (DOB 16.04.62) a Polish national of Popes Lane, London W5, was found guilty and sentenced to four years and nine months in prison.
  • Mariusz Dudek (DOB 18.03.83) a Polish national of Castle Road, Northolt, Middlesex UB5, was sentenced to three years and six months in prison.
  • Amjad Jassim (DOB 28.10.70) of Hillcrest Road, London W5, was found guilty and sentenced to two years in prison, suspended for two years and ordered to carry out 100 hours unpaid work.
  • Alban Beqiri (DOB19.08.75) an Albanian of The Curve, Shepherd Bush, London W12, pleaded guilty and was fined £150.

3. They were charged with offences under the Customs and Excise Management Act 1979 and the Criminal Law Act 1977.

4. During the investigation, HMRC revealed that the gang had attempted to smuggle cigarettes into the UK from January 2013.

5. Anyone with information on suspected tax fraud should contact the Customs Hotline on 0800 59 5000.

6. Follow HMRC Press Office on Twitter @HMRCpressoffice

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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.

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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.

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