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‘Snowmen’ cigarette smugglers sent to prison

HMRC foils plot by Middleton pair

Published on September 28th 2010.

‘Snowmen’ cigarette smugglers sent to prison

Two men from Greater Manchester who pretended to import Christmas snowmen in a plot to smuggle nine million cigarettes into the UK have been jailed.

William Crewe of Salford and John Dent of Middleton both pleaded guilty to their involvement following a criminal investigation by HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC). The cigarettes had a potential tax loss of over £1.4m.

Mike O’Grady, HMRC assistant director criminal investigation, said: “Officers examined a freight container at Felixstowe docks described on importation paperwork as ‘poly resin snowmen’ en route to Middleton.

“However, there were no festive snowmen inside, just millions of illegal cigarettes. By evading tobacco duty, this scam not only deprived the UK of public funds, but also undercut legitimate retailers.

“HMRC will continue to work closely with UK Border Agency officers at the frontier to disrupt criminal operations wherever possible.”

In his summing up, His Honour Judge Steiger said he had taken into account the men’s ages and ill health but that due to the serious circumstances and previous convictions for cigarette smuggling he had to give a custodial sentence.

Confiscation of assets under the Proceeds of Crime Act is being sought.

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