Lorry drivers caught in Essex with £60k worth of illegal cigarettes

Cigarettes found in the lorry in Essex.

Cigarettes found in the lorry in Essex. - Credit: Archant

Two drivers have been given jail time after attempting to smuggle almost 200,000 illegal cigarettes into the UK by hiding them in the wheel space of their lorry.

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 were hidden in the rear of their HGVs.

A further 10,000 cigarettes were found hidden under the floor of one of the lorries.

The drivers were sentenced following an investigation by HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC).

Paul Barton, assistant director at 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.

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“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.”

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

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Wisniewski and Florczak, both from Poland, pleaded guilty to excise fraud and were sentenced to eight months in prison suspended for two years at Chelmsford Crown Court on Tuesday.

In total 196,200 Marlboro cigarettes were recovered - estimated at £60,233.

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