Customs foil alleged £1m smuggling scam

THREE men are due to appear in an Ipswich court next week after customs officers uncovered an alleged £1m international cigarette smuggling scam.Officers seized two consignments of illegal fags at the Port of Felixstowe which led to the arrests of the trio by an Ipswich-based HM Customs team.

By Colin Adwent

THREE men are due to appear in an Ipswich court next week after customs officers uncovered an alleged £1m international cigarette smuggling scam.

Officers seized two consignments of illegal fags at the Port of Felixstowe which led to the arrests of the trio by an Ipswich-based HM Customs team.

The men who are scheduled to appear before magistrates are Ranjit Mirchandani, of The Fairway, Wembley, Kzisif Khan, 27, of Marconi Road, Leyton, and Salim Khan, of the same address.

The Khans are believed to be brothers.

Fifty nine-year-old Mirchandani faces two counts of trying to import cigarettes into the country illegally between September 2002 and November 2003.

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In total officers seized around six million cigarettes during the two busts.

The first cargo of contraband arrived from China in 2002. Three million fags were hidden inside one of the containers which came off a ship. It is thought these are likely to have been counterfeit and were branded as Benson and Hedges.

Kzisif and Salim Khan are charged with one count of fraudulently evading the duty on another container-load of three million cigarettes which arrived at the Suffolk port last November.

They were concealed in a cargo of kitchen utensils which had arrived on a ship from Sri Lanka.

Mirchandani also faces prosecution over this consignment.

All three were charged after the second container-load was seized two months ago.

They are due to appear at South East Suffolk Magistrates Court for their first hearing next Wednesday .

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