Four men behind a tobacco counterfeiting fraud, worth around £95,500 in evaded duty, have been jailed for a total of six years after an investigation by HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC).
Eric Cuerton, 57, from Grimbsy, John Stewart, 51, from Birkenhead, and Ronald Johnson, 53, from Dartford, were arrested in May 2013 after HMRC officers seized 553 kilograms of hand-rolling tobacco (HRT) from a car trailer in Holton Le Clay, near Grimsby.
Follow-up searches of Cuerton’s home revealed a tobacco processing plant set up in his kitchen. As the investigation continued a fourth man, Giuseppe Avanzi, 35, from London, was arrested in August 2013 as he arrived off a flight from Italy.
The men pleaded guilty and Cuerton was sentenced to three years in prison for the evasion of excise duty and a further 15 months for possession of articles for use in fraud, to run concurrently. Stewart, Johnson and Avanzi were sentenced to one year in prison for evasion of excise duty.
Anyone with information about smuggled or counterfeit tobacco products should contact the Customs hotline on 0800 595000.