A gang who established an illicit tobacco factory in Chesterfield, Derbyshire, capable of churning out 625 million counterfeit cigarettes and five million pouches of fake hand-rolling tobacco a year, have been jailed.
The plot, worth more than £131m a year in lost revenue, was foiled when HM Revenue & Customs criminal investigators closed down the factory just days before it went into production.
Gary Lampon, assistant director of criminal investigation for HMRC, said: “This was organised crime on an industrial scale. The gang planned to launch a UK production facility, manufacturing counterfeit tobacco goods by the million. We had previously seized 1.25 million illegal cigarettes from them, so in the belief that they could make a bigger profit they decided to make their own. This was all about lining their own pockets and they had no regard to the potential harm such criminal activity causes.”
The gang’s leader was sentenced to seven years and four months in prison, while nine other members received sentences of between 10 months and two years.