Cigarette smuggling fugitive jailed

18 December, 2013

A convicted cigarette smuggler who fled the country six years ago has been jailed.

Paul James Wright from Liverpool smuggled more than three million cigarettes into the UK, and was wanted by HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) for evading over £500,000 in duty.

He absconded after conviction and was believed to have escaped to the Far East. On 1 October, Wright was stopped and arrested at Malaysian Border Controls at Kuala Lumpur Airport travelling on a false passport. He was deported on a flight back to the UK in relation to the passport offence, and arrived at Heathrow Airport on 6 December 2013.

Sandra Smith, assistant director of criminal investigation, HMRC, said: “Wright tried to run from justice by fleeing aboard thinking he would be safe – but he was wrong. We relentlessly pursue tax fugitives for their criminal activity and after six years on the run, Wright is now serving his time.

“If anyone has any information on any other UK tax fugitive, I urge them to contact us via our Customs Hotline on 0800 59 5000, so they can face justice.”

Wright was immediately arrested when he arrived at Heathrow Airport. He appeared at Manchester Crown Court on 13 December, where he was ordered to serve his original three-year sentence, plus an additional 24 weeks for breaching his bail conditions.

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