A lorry driver who smuggled half a tonne of hand-rolling tobacco into the UK, hidden among boxes filled with plastic waste, has been jailed for 15 months after an investigation by HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC).
Vilmantas Mikalajunas, 37, was arrested by Border Force officers at Dover Eastern Docks on 28 October 2017 when six pallets containing non-duty paid Turner brand tobacco were found in the lorry.
The case was referred to HMRC criminal investigators, who found £108,346 in excise duty was evaded on 516 kilos of tobacco. The import papers were fake and the cargo was a load of lumpy plastic waste, packed in cardboard boxes to look like a legitimate consignment.
Tim Clarke, assistant director, Fraud Investigation Service, HMRC, said:“Mikalajunas must have hoped that the hidden tobacco would go undetected within the consignment. But his smuggling attempt, false paperwork and sham cargo were discovered and he’s now paying the price with a jail term.
“HMRC continues to work with Border Force to tackle illicit tobacco that harms honest businesses and takes money from public services. Anyone with information about tobacco smuggling should call our Fraud Hotline on 0800 788 887.”
Mikalajunas pleaded guilty to evading excise duty at Maidstone Crown Court on 27 November 2017. He was immediately jailed for 15 months.