Cigarette smuggler awaits sentence

A STUDENT convicted after an international cigarette smuggling plot was foiled at Felixstowe is awaiting sentence today.Ryan Soares was found guilty in his absence of attempting to evade duty on millions of illegal cigarettes, after he failed to turn up at Ipswich Crown Court for trial.

A STUDENT convicted after an international cigarette smuggling plot was foiled at Felixstowe is awaiting sentence today.

Ryan Soares was found guilty in his absence of attempting to evade duty on millions of illegal cigarettes, after he failed to turn up at Ipswich Crown Court for trial.

A warrant has been issued for his arrest.

The 25-year-old will now be brought before court for sentencing.

Soares was arrested as he unloaded the contraband following a covert operation by Ipswich-based customs officers.

The cigarettes were discovered when a shipping container that had arrived at Felixstowe on January 23 this year, from the Middle East was examined.

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The documentation described the contents as paper and plastic kitchen goods, but when officers examined the load they found 3.5 million Capital cigarettes concealed inside.

The smokes were destined for an address in Blackburn.

The potentially duty and VAT lost is estimated as £600,000

Ten people were arrested in connection with the smuggling operation. Eight are bailed to re-appear at Ipswich police station at a later date.

Two, including Soares, were charged with being knowingly concerned in the fraudulent evasion of excise duty due on these cigarettes.

The other defendant will appear in court at a later date.

The arrests were made when customs officers raided on a unit at the Chailey Industrial estate in Harrow in Middlesex on February 7 this year.

After Soares, of Wembley Park, London, was convicted, John Phillips, acting head of HM Customs criminal investigation team in Ipswich, said: “These cigarettes would have been sold cheaply on our streets. Cheap tobacco products can often seem like an attractive offer, luring the public into purchasing what seems like a bargain. However, the truth is these sales are unlicensed and unregulated.

“Those involved are not concerned if they are selling to underage children and young people. In addition, with expertly crafted packaging it is almost impossible to spot whether the cigarettes are counterfeit. Like any other counterfeit product, individuals don't know exactly what they are buying.

“We are determined to eradicate this form of criminality and raise awareness of the dangers of buying illegal tobacco products. We are calling on local people to work more closely with us in the fight against crime and encourage anyone aware of illicit cigarettes and hand rolling tobacco to contact our confidential hotline number on 0800 59 5000 or email customs.confidential@hmrc.gsi.gov.uk

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