Two men and a woman have been jailed for attempting to smuggle more than two tonnes of tobacco into the UK hidden inside a lorry load of felt-tip pens.

HGV driver Mark Sneidr, 26, was stopped by Border Force officers at Dover in February 2014 as he disembarked a ferry from Calais. Officers searched his lorry and found 2.2 tonnes of tobacco concealed among the cargo of Crayola branded pens.

Officers stopped a car arriving on the same ferry containing Sasa Saale, 33 and Juraj Gabor, 44. HM Revenue and Customs’ (HMRC) enquiries confirmed all three were involved in smuggling the tobacco into the UK and attempting to evade £367,245 in excise duty and VAT.

Saale and Sneidr pleaded guilty to evading excise duty but Gabor denied the charge. He was later found guilty by a jury at Maidstone Crown Court. On September 1 Sneidr and Saale were sentenced to two years and three months in prison, and Gabor received a three-year prison sentence.

David Margree, assistant director, criminal investigation, HMRC, said: “Smugglers like these undermine legitimate tobacco traders and steal from UK taxpayers. I would encourage anyone with information about the smuggling, sale or distribution of illicit tobacco to contact the Customs Hotline on 0800 595000.”