Lorry driver caught with 76,000 illicit cigarettes at Humber Sea Terminal

More than 76,000 illicit cigarettes when officials checked a lorry passing through Humber Sea Terminal. Pictures: HMRC/Google
More than 76,000 illicit cigarettes when officials checked a lorry passing through Humber Sea Terminal. Pictures: HMRC/Google

A lorry driver has been jailed after being caught with more than 76,000 illicit cigarettes at Humber Sea Terminal.

Przemyslaw Andrzej Schlabs was arrested by UK Border Force officers when they discovered Pect and Marlboro Gold cigarettes behind the front seats and in the sleeping area of his vehicle on January 24.

Read more: Illicit cigarettes and tobacco seized in West Yorkshire raids

HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) said today that its investigators found the 42-year-old from Poland had travelled into the UK from Hook of Holland.

They said he initially shrugged his shoulders when asked if the cigarettes were his, but then said two men in Poland had offered him around £635 to deliver the items.

The 76,800 non-UK duty paid cigarettes were found to be worth £20,848 in unpaid taxes.

Read more: Detection dogs sniff out record-breaking haul of illegal cigarettes and tobacco in Wakefield

Schlabs was sentenced to 24 weeks in prison when he appeared at Grimsby Crown Court on Friday.

He had admitted excise fraud during an earlier hearing at Grimsby Magistrates’ Court on January 25.

An HMRC spokesperson said: “Schlabs thought he could earn some quick and easy cash by smuggling illicit cigarettes into the UK, but he was wrong."

Read more: Smuggler who stashed 300,000 cigarettes inside walls and roof of lorry jailed

In the two years to October 2017, more than 3.5bn cigarettes and almost 600 tonnes of illicit hand-rolling tobacco were seized in the UK.

Prosecutions were also brought against 848 criminals involved in the illicit tobacco market during that time.

It is part of HMRC's ongoing work to clampdown on the sale of illicit tobacco, which costs the UK economy around £2bn a year.

Anyone with information about tobacco fraud to report it to HMRC online or contact the Fraud Hotline on 0800 788 887.