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21 September 2011, 12:36
A smuggler caught trying to deliver thousands of counterfeit cigarettes has been sentenced to 200 hours' unpaid work.
Zhia Han Jan was arrested when he arrived at a storage unit in Luton in September 2010. He was driving a BMW and when officers searched the vehicle they found 18,400 cigarettes and 80 kilos of tobacco in the back.
A further 12,000 cigarettes and a quantity of empty hand rolling tobacco pouches were found in the unit.
The 26 year old was arrested and when his fingerprints were taken, they matched those of Hon Pong Cheng - someone suspected of involvement in an earlier attempt to smuggle hand rolling tobacco through Felixstowe in 2010, when more than four hundred kilos of tobacco was discovered hidden in a container load of footstools from China.
He was charged with two counts of smuggling and pleaded guilty to both charges at an earlier hearing. He was sentenced at Ipswich Crown Court on Tuesday 20 September 2011. The total duty Zhia Han Jan evaded is estimated at £120,000.
Zhia Jan Han, who lives on The Green in Luton, has also been given a 12 month prison sentence, suspended for two years, which means he won't have to go to prison provided he keeps out of trouble.
Jennie Kendall from HM Revenue and Customs said "The illegal tobacco trade has a huge effect on our community. The criminals involved are not concerned who they sell to and often supply to children and young people.
"We have active and effective teams of officers operating across the region to stamp out this criminal activity and seek to prosecute those responsible."