Prison for HGV driver who smuggled pallets of tobacco


A truck driver who smuggled more than a tonne of tobacco into the UK in a load of peanuts has been sent to prison for 22 months.

His truck was stopped at Dover Eastern Docks on 2 August. Import documents showed it was carrying 24 pallets loaded with boxes of sesame and caramel coated peanuts, but a search uncovered 57 boxes of hand-rolling tobacco on three of the pallets.

HMRC estimated that he had evaded paying £220,393 in excise duty by smuggling the tobacco.

Driver Georgi Ilchev, of Gotse Delchev, Bulgaria, pleaded guilty to the fraudulent evasion of excise duty at Maidstone Crown Court on 31 August. He was sent to prison for 22 months.

“Ilchev thought he could avoid detection by hiding the smuggled tobacco within a legitimate cargo of peanuts, but his crime was discovered and he’s now paying the price in prison. Had the smuggled tobacco made it to the UK’s streets it would have harmed honest retailers,” said Tim Clarke, assistant director of the Fraud Investigation Service at HMRC.