A gang who tied to smuggle nearly four million illegal cigarettes into the UK have been sentenced.
The Fest’ and Jin Ling branded cigarettes were found hidden in a consignment of car parts and were worth an estimated £950,000 in lost duty and taxes.
Investigators caught three of the gang as they unloaded the cigarettes from a lorry at a self-storage unit in Loudwater and arrested them in August 2014.
Sirajadin Bahadin, 45, from London, Ireneusz Bocian, 55, from London and Faheem Ahmadzia, 55, from Doncaster were sentenced at Southwark Crown Court on December 15 2016.
In December 2014, officers then swopped on the home of Mohammed Khalil, 43, in Enfield, North London, and found records detailing sales for around 400,000 illicit cigarettes, directly linked to the seizure in August.
Khalil and Sebastian Rak, 31, were arrested after officers found £220,000 in cash, wrapped in carrier bags, in Rak’s car.
David Margree, assistant director, Fraud Investigation Service, HMRC, said: “This was a major tobacco smuggling crime syndicate intent on lining their own pockets, regardless of the impact their theft had on taxpayers and the country’s finances.
“All of the cigarettes seized are illicit and manufactured solely for the smuggling trade.
“The content of these cigarettes, and the conditions in which they have been produced, are unknown and unregulated – they are not the so-called bargain they profess to be.
Bahadin, Bocian and Ahmadzia were charged with tobacco smuggling offences and Rak and Khalil were charged with money laundering offences.
On sentencing Judge Pawlak commented: said: “This is a crime against society, evading duty which would have been used to fund public services including the NHS.
“The victims of this offence are the honest tax payers of the United Kingdom.”
The following were sentenced at Southwark Crown Court on December 15 2016 -
Sirajadin Bahadin of Chettle Court, Ridge Road, was sentenced to three years imprisonment.
Faheem Ahmadzia of Lundwood House, Bond Close, Doncaster, was sentenced to 15 months imprisonment suspended for 24 months.
Ireneusz Bocian of Princess Avenue was sentenced to three years imprisonment.
Mohammed Khalil of Kingsway, Enfield was sentenced to three years imprisonment.
Sebastian Rak of Pembroke Avenue, Enfield, London was sentenced to three years imprisonment at the same court on December 20.
Contact 0800 59 5000 if you have any information about tobacco smuggling.