A taxi call handler from Nelson has been sentenced for smuggling illegal cigarettes through Manchester Airport.
Razwan Khan (37) of Hildrop Road, Nelson, flew into Manchester from Lahore, Pakistan, carrying 64,400 non-duty paid cigarettes, a HM Revenue and Customs investigation found.
Khan and another passenger were stopped at the airport by Border Force officers on December 14th. They were carrying eight suitcases containing the cigarettes but Khan said they were all his. The total duty evaded was £22,589.
Khan admitted the fraudulent evasion of excise duty at Manchester and Salford Magistrates' Court and was sentenced to nine months in prison, suspended for two years. The seized cigarettes were ordered to be destroyed.
Khan was sentenced to nine months in prison, suspended for two years, and a 15-day rehabilitation activity requirement at Manchester Crown Court.
A HMRC spokesman said: “This was an organised and co-ordinated attempt to smuggle tens of thousands of cigarettes into the UK and to cheat the public purse.
“The duty evaded in this case is equivalent to the wages of a trainee firefighter for a year. I urge anyone with information about tobacco smuggling or fraud to contact us online or call our Fraud Hotline on 0800 788 887.”
Adam Knight, assistant director Border Force North, said: “Border Force officers are alert to travellers who attempt to evade the duty on goods brought back to the UK from abroad. Detections such as this are testament to that and help protect the economy.
“The black market in cigarettes and tobacco cheats honest traders and we will continue to work with HMRC to identify the people responsible for attempts like this and bring them to justice.”