Gang used network of couriers to try and sell £1.5m of counterfeit cigarettes

By Jake Brigstock

A Nottingham man has been jailed for his involvement in an international gang selling illegal cigarettes, worth more than £1.5m in unpaid duty.

Grzegorz Szewe, 49, of Dirac Close in Clifton was found guilty of fraudulent evasion of duty and was sentenced to 30 months in prison at Southwark Crown Court today (Thursday, November 25).

Dariusz Dudczyk, 47, was sentenced to 30 months for the same offence, and Adil Hussain, 42, of Orchard Avenue, Southgate, North London was sentenced to 45 months for two counts of fraudulent evasion of duty and one count of concealing criminal property.

The men planned the delivery and sale of counterfeit cigarettes worth more than £1.5 million in unpaid duty, an investigation by HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) revealed.

Hussain was responsible for sourcing the cigarettes and managing a network of couriers to collect the goods and distribute them to shops around the UK.

Illegal cigarettes were seized (HMRC)

On November 27 2016, HMRC officers conducted a search of a self-storage unit in Sherwood, Nottingham, after witnessing a lorry being unloaded there the night before.

A search of the unit, rented under a different name, uncovered 4,827,400 counterfeit cigarettes.

Szewe was caught driving out of the car park in a van loaded with boxes containing a further 601,600 counterfeit cigarettes branded Marlboro, Regal and L&M.

He was arrested along with Dudczyk, who was parked in a lorry nearby.

Carmine di Franco, assistant director of the fraud investigation service at HMRC, said: "Hussain was the head of an organised criminal network intent on flooding our streets with millions of illegal cigarettes.

"These kinds of cigarettes come at a cost as they undermine legitimate traders, take vital revenue away from our public services and can all too easily find their way into the hands of children."

"We also encourage anyone with information about the illegal sale of tobacco to report it online or call the Fraud Hotline on 0800 788 887."

Cash was seized in shopping bags (HMRC)

During a separate search of a property linked to Hussain, in Perry Barr, Birmingham, officers found 200,000 illegal cigarettes and carrier bags containing £28,000 in cash, hidden in a hedge in the back garden.

The cash and cigarettes were seized and Hussain was arrested at a hotel in Hertfordshire for his role in the scam.

Hussain pleaded guilty in September 2020, whereas Szewe and Dudczyk were convicted following a trial in July 2021.

All three men were sentenced today.

HMRC is searching for 46-year-old Andrzej Watroba, who is wanted in connection with the smuggling plot.

If you know anything about his whereabouts, you're urged to report it online at gov.uk.


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