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A delivery driver's been jailed for 6 months after customs staff found nearly 163,000 smuggled cigarettes hidden in his van.
The 27-year-old Romanian called Veaceslav Margineanu, was stopped as he arrived on a ferry in Portsmouth back in September. Officials discovered a wall of cigarettes stashed in a secret compartment behind his cab.
Margineanu, who works as a delivery driver between Ireland and Paris, pleaded guilty at Portsmouth Magistrates’ Court on 27 September 2010 to evading around £35,000 in excise duty.
Upon sentencing His Honour Judge Hetherington said:
“You involved yourself in a professional smuggling operation…Your reward may have been relatively small, but you would have known that concealing the cigarettes was plainly illegal and designed to avoid tax.”
He’s also been disqualified from driving for six months.
Ian Wide, HMRC Senior Criminal Investigator, said:
“The purpose-built concealment shows the lengths to which smugglers will go to evade duty. Cigarette smuggling is not a victimless crime, but theft from law abiding UK residents. Our investigators will pursue those criminals who try to smuggle cigarettes and we ask anyone with information about the illegal smuggling or sale of tobacco goods to call the Customs’ Hotline on 0800 59 5000.”
At the time of his arrest Margineanu was carrying 1665.00 Euros and £220.00 in cash, which HMRC Criminal Investigators seized under the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002.