A Grimsby man who illegally supplied large quantities of smuggled cigarettes and tobacco to outlets across Humberside has been jailed for two years.
An investigation by HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) uncovered a major supply chain organised by Peter John Drewett, which had evaded an estimated £281,000 in unpaid duty.
Drewett’s illegal activities were halted when HMRC searched a lock-up garage in Grimsby in April 2012. Officers caught Drewett when he arrived at the premises with smuggled cigarettes and tobacco in the boot of his car.
He had a key for the lock-up garage where officers had already discovered 195,000 cigarettes and a quantity of hand rolling tobacco. Some of the cigarettes were Jin Ling, a brand not legally available for sale in the UK.
Drewett was arrested and later charged with duty evasion. The car, tobacco and cigarettes were seized.
Recorder Gittins on sentencing Drewett said: “This was an operation on a grand scale. You were operating as a wholesaler and the quantities make you a commercial supplier.”
Jo Tyler, assistant director of criminal investigation, HMRC, said: “Drewett supplied large quantities of smuggled cigarettes and tobacco with no regard for the effect that his activities had on legitimate retailers.
“Cheap tobacco products can often seem like an attractive offer to people lured into buying them at what may appear to be bargain prices. However, the truth is these sales are unlicensed and unregulated. Those involved are not concerned if they are selling to children and young people.”