Cigarette-Smuggler Sentenced

A Bulgarian man, who smuggled almost 80,000 cigarettes through five UK airports, including Bournemouth,has been sentenced.

32-year-old Teodor Petkov Tsonchev from Barking pleaded guilty to evading nearly £17,000 of duty and VAT when he appeared at Bournemouth Magistrates' Court, Dorset, on 8th May 2012.

Tsonchev was intercepted on five separate occasions smuggling cigarettes - he was initially arrested at Bournemouth Airport on 14th April 2009. On each occasion he travelled to Tenerife to visit family and smuggled the cigarettes on his return to the UK.

Tsonchev received a 20 week custodial sentence, suspended for one year, at Bournemouth Magistrates' Court on Tuesday 29th May. He must also undertake 160 hours of community service.

John Cooper, HMRC Assistant Director Criminal Investigation, said:

"Tsonchev jumped bail on three occasions, but our officers tracked him down to face justice and he now has a criminal record.

Tobacco smuggling not only undermines legitimate retailers who have to compete with Illegal imports, but also costs the UK economy around £2billion a year.

Anyone with information about such criminal activity should contact the Customs' Hotline on 0800 59 5000."