Cigarettes smuggled by truck in a white goods shipment

Commercial Motor
November 20, 2018

An eight-strong gang that smuggled more than 2 million illegal cigarettes into the north-east hidden among fridge freezers on the back of a truck received sentences at Teesside Crown Court on 26 October of more than 26 years.

Mohammad Zada, of Applecross Grove, Wynyard, Billingham, presided over the smuggling gang, which was caught with illegal tobacco products worth £713,037 in unpaid duty, an investigation by HMRC revealed. The largest haul was discovered on the back of a truck in Middlesbrough where officers found 2,204,620 non-UK duty paid cigarettes hidden among a shipment of fridge freezers.

Investigators also seized large amounts of illegal tobacco products from a rented storage unit and one of the gang member’s homes, both in Stockton-on-Tees. Last week, Zada was jailed for five and a half years for conspiracy to evade excise duty.

Zada’s fellow gang members, including his two brothers Mustafa and Mahdee, were also sentenced for conspiracy to evade excise duty. Sentences varied between four years to 32 months.

Fraud Investigation Service, HMRC assistant director Denis Kerr said: “This was a shocking attempt to flood the north east with millions of illegal cigarettes. Zada and his gang thought their crimes would go undetected, but they got caught and now they are paying the price.”

One of those convicted, Polish lorry driver Slawomir Paprocki, entered the UK through the Harwich International Port from The Netherlands with the cigarettes along with fellow Pole Lukasz Maziarka. Paprocki held legitimate paperwork for a delivery of white goods to a store in Bristol, but he also had a fake document for an address in Sunderland as a cover for being in the north east.

Proceedings to recover unpaid duty are under way.

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