Felixstowe smugglers get 20 years
SUFFOLK: Two men are beginning jail terms totalling almost 20 years after Ipswich customs officers foiled a multi-million pound international smuggling plot.
Gary Woodruff and Daniel Parman were sentenced at Ipswich Crown Court for their part in smuggling 11 million cigarettes, five tonnes of hand rolling tobacco, and thousands of litres of wine into the UK.
In a bid to avoid an estimated �6million in tax they concealed the illegal goods in mattresses, glass jars, toilet rolls and barbecue charcoal.
The smugglers used various UK ports, including Felixstowe, in an attempt to disguise their activities.
Their racket ended after customs officers from Suffolk observed their pair in an operation code-named Warbler at an industrial warehouse in East London.
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The warehouse turned out to be the base for a major smuggling racket and was being used by the men as a store.
The gang used a legitimate companies details to ship the tobacco, cigarettes and wine into the UK from France, Poland, South Africa, and China.
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Among the contraband consignments were mattresses, packed in China and shipped to Felixstowe, which had 2.5 million counterfeit cigarettes in the middle instead of springs and stuffing.
A shipment of toilet rolls from China also cleverly concealed 2.89 million counterfeit cigarettes in the middle of the pallets.
Sentencing the pair Judge Peter Fenn said: “This was highly and professionally organised smuggling using a vari-ety of methods and routes. You had numerous sources for cigarettes and tobacco around the world and you each played an organisational role in the deliveries.”
Woodroof, 51, of Chigwell Essex, was convicted of the fraudulent evasion of excise duty. He was sentenced to nine years for tobacco smuggling with a consecutive six month sentence for the alcohol smuggling.
Parman, 49, of Buckhurst Hill, Essex, pleaded guilty to alcohol smuggling charges. He was convicted of tobacco smuggling after a trial. Parman was given 10 years in jail for the tobacco smuggling and a six month concurrent sentence for the alcohol smuggling.