Two men have been jailed after being convicted of tobacco tax evasion.

Graham Kay, 38, from Bolton and Soran Salih, 24, from Bury were caught moving 245 kilos of smuggled tobacco between two vans by HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) officers.

The officers seized the tobacco and both men were arrested for tax evasion. More illegal tobacco and cash were seized at their homes and business premises during the investigation. Both men pleaded guilty to attempting to evade over £94,000 in excise duty and VAT. Kay was sentenced to 14 months in prison and Salih received an eight-month sentence.

Mike O’Grady, assistant director, criminal investigation for HMRC, said: “We are determined to tackle the ongoing problem of illicit tobacco sales across Greater Manchester. My message is clear to anyone engaged in this illegal activity - HMRC will pursue those who ignore the rules on the sale, storage and supply of illicit tobacco.

“The evasion of excise duty is a criminal offence. If you are caught you will not only have your goods seized but you may also face prosecution. Anyone with information about the illegal trade in smuggled cigarettes and tobacco in the Manchester area should contact the Customs hotline on 0800 59 5000.”

The cigarettes were recycled as fuel for the National Grid, the cash seized has been forfeited to the Crown and Salih’s van was confiscated.