Henryk Wawrenczuk, 62, was stopped by Border Force officers at Dover Eastern Docks in January 2017. A search of the lorry’s trailer unit revealed the boxes of cigarettes packaged in a similar way to the hardboard and hidden within the load. Wawrenczuk was arrested and the illegal importation, worth £152,205 in evaded tobacco duty, was referred to HMRC for investigation.
Alan Tully, Assistant Director, Fraud Investigation Service, HMRC, said:
“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.
“HMRC continues to work with Border Force to reduce the availability of illicit tobacco, which costs the UK around £2.4 billion a year, steals from communities and harms the livelihood of legitimate retailers. We have seized more than 3.5 billion illicit cigarettes in the last two years alone, and encourage anyone with information regarding the smuggling, storage or sale of illegal tobacco to contact our Fraud Hotline.”
Wawrenczuk pleaded guilty to evading excise duty at Maidstone Crown Court on Friday 7 April 2017 and was jailed for 16 months.
Upon sentencing Wawrenczuk, Mr Recorder McDonagh, said:
“This was an organised and professional importation. The cigarettes were being professionally concealed to hide them from border authorities. You are 62 years old, you should have known better.”