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Harlow cigarette smuggler sentenced

Communities / Tue 27th Oct 2015 at 02:05pm

A 28 year-old man from Harlow, who smuggled thousands of counterfeit cigarettes into the UK hidden inside parcels labelled as toys, shoes and light fittings has been sentenced.

Chinese restaurant worker, Jia Hui Huang from Perry Spring, Harlow tried to hide the scam by wrongly labelling the parcels on customs declaration forms. He used over 14 different mail box addresses scattered around North London which were set up with false names and fake documentation. He was caught out as he collected one of the parcels and was arrested by HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) officers.

Christopher Gill, Fraud Investigation Service, HMRC said:

“If we hadn’t stopped him, Huang would have flooded local communities with counterfeit cigarettes. He had already been warned by HMRC to stop importing the cigarettes, but simply continued his illegal activities with no regard for the consequences and is now paying the price.

“Tobacco smuggling will not be tolerated, it damages the livelihoods of honest businesses and allows an unregulated, counterfeit product to reach the consumer. If you know of anyone selling illegal cigarettes please report them by calling our 24 hour hotline on 0800 59 5000.”

HMRC investigators began looking closely at Huang’s activities and estimated that he had received more than 120 parcels over a five month period. Each parcel had been sent from China and contained between 1,200 and 4,000 counterfeit cigarettes – a total of around 160,000 counterfeit cigarettes, with a duty loss of over £43,000.

After Huang was arrested investigators searched his vehicle and home and found a further 36,000 counterfeit cigarettes and a number of warning letters related to smuggling cigarettes into the UK.

He was charged on 28 May 2015 with the fraudulent evasion of excise duty contrary to section 170 (2) (b) of Customs and Excise Management Act 1979. He pleaded guilty on 21 September 2015 and was sentenced at Harrow Crown Court yesterday (26 October 2015) to 12 months in jail suspended for two years and will have to complete 200 hours of community service.

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