Danny McCance 12 Apr 2017 09:52am

HMRC stubs out cigarette smuggling operation

Lorry driver Henryk Wawrenczuk was caught smuggling 600,000 illicit cigarettes into Dover in January, worth £152,205 in evaded tobacco duty

On 7 April, Wawrenczuk pleaded guilty to evading excise duty at Maidstone Crown Court. He was sentenced to 16 months in prison, following an investigation by HMRC.

The smuggler hid the cigarettes in pallets among the floorboard of the lorry he was driving.

In January, Border Force officers stopped Wawrenczuk at Dover Eastern Docks, finding the cigarettes packaged and among the hardboard flooring that he was transporting.

“Wawrenczuk thought he’d get away with smuggling the cigarettes by using import documents for a load of hardboard flooring. He’s now paying the price for his greed’” said Alan Tully, assistant director, fraud investigation service, HMRC.

“HMRC continues to work with Border Force to reduce the availability of illicit tobacco, which costs the UK around £2.4bn a year, steals from communities and harms the livelihood of legitimate retailers.”

This is another case in a long line of successful smuggling busts by the revenue. In September last year Stewart Grainger was arrested after HMRC caught him unloading cigarettes that were bought in Kuala Lumpur, worth £1.75m in unpaid excise duty and VAT.

In August 2015 five men were arrested in North London on suspicion of smuggling cigarettes and alcohol after an operation by HMRC to tackle an estimated £1m tax fraud.