Three men have been jailed for a total of ten years and nine months after they were caught with millions of illegal cigarettes at a Yorkshire farm.
Michael Haley, 39, Rafal Miller, 37, and Grzegorz Kojak, 50, were found with illegal tobacco products worth £3,041,476 in unpaid duty, an investigation by HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) revealed.
HMRC officers caught the trio loading cigarettes into a van at the farm on Driffield Road, Huggate, York, in September 2018. The cigarettes were concealed inside metal containers, which were packed in cardboard boxes.
The men were arrested and 10,853,500 cigarettes were seized from the van, a warehouse on the farm and a lorry trailer parked inside.
The trio admitted excise fraud at Hull Crown Court on 8 March 2019. They were sentenced at the same court on 13 December 2019 to:
• Haley was sentenced to three years and nine months in prison;
• Miller was sentenced to three years and nine months in prison;
• Kojak was sentenced to three years and three months in prison.
Brett Wilkinson, assistant director, Fraud Investigation Service, HMRC, said: “This was a deliberate attempt to flood the streets with illegal cigarettes and deprive our public services of millions of pounds. Hayley, Kojak and Miller thought their smuggling scam would go unnoticed – but they were wrong and now they are paying the price.
“We will continue to pursue criminals who think stealing from taxpayers is acceptable. I urge anyone who has information about the smuggling, selling or storing of illicit tobacco to report it to HMRC online or by calling our Fraud Hotline on 0800 788887.”