UK: Three men who were caught red-handed unloading more than three million illegal cigarettes hidden in air conditioning units in Brandon, Suffolk have been jailed for more than 11 years.
The Thetford-based gang, who were under surveillance by HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) investigators, were arrested as they smuggled 3,300,180 cigarettes worth approximately £741,064 at industrial units at Brandon Business Centre.
Arnoldas Gefel, 27, and Tomas Mazilius, 35, were arrested at the industrial estate. A third man Mantas Vasylius, 28, was arrested at home.
Paul Barton, assistant director at HMRC, said: “This gang were caught taking delivery of millions of smuggled cigarettes which they wrongly thought were well hidden inside air conditioning units.
“Not only does this type of criminal activity harm the livelihoods of honest shopkeepers but it is estimated to cost the UK economy £2 billion a year in much needed revenue that should be funding public services.”
Shop owner Manta Vasylius, of Peter Drive, Thetford, was charged with the fraudulent evasion of excise duty and jailed for five years. Shop assistant Arnoldas Gefel, also from Thetford, was given three years and four months.
Tomas Maziulis from Leicester was jailed for three years and two months.
The men were sentenced on Monday at Ipswich Crown Court.