Hidden stash lorry drivers sentenced

TWO lorry drivers, who attempted to smuggle almost 200,000 illegal cigarettes into the UK by hiding them in the wheel space of their lorry, have been sentenced after an investigation by HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC).

Gabriel Wisniewski, 34 and Hubert Florczak 29, were arrested at a layby between Harlow and Chelmsford in October 2014 after they were caught removing the cigarettes, that had been hidden in the rear of their HGV’s. A further 10,000 cigarettes were found hidden under the floor of one of the lorries.

Paul Barton, Assistant Director, Criminal Investigation, HMRC said:

“This was a sophisticated smuggling operation. These men had legitimate loads and a side-line in smuggling cigarettes to earn what they wrongly thought was easy money. This criminal activity is not acceptable, not only does it put small businesses who legally sell cigarettes at risk it also funds other criminality and takes money away from the Treasury.

“Tobacco fraud is a highly organised global crime which costs the UK £2 billion a year in lost taxes. The trade in illicit tobacco is unregulated and makes cheaper tobacco more readily available to the young and vulnerable.”

A third person was arrested at the scene but later released without charge.

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