A retailer from Hull, Yorkshire, who was caught with more than one million illicit cigarettes stashed in self-storage containers, has been jailed for five years.
Aras Rasul Rashid, who operated Bekhal General Store, on Spring Bank, Hull, was caught when sniffer dogs detected the haul during a joint operation between HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) and Border Force in 2015.
Officers seized 1,110,040 non UK duty paid cigarettes and 736kg of hand-rolling tobacco from two containers which he was renting.
The retailer’s home and store were also searched and £15,220 in cash was also found.
In September 2015 further investigations found a man, using a drop-side transit van owned by Rashid, went to collect a consignment of 340,800 Red Golden Dragon cigarettes that had been shipped from Greece.
The cigarettes were worth £82,235 in unpaid duty but had been seized by Border Force as they were entering the UK.
Two similar deliveries, worth an estimated £97,726.50 in duty evaded, were made during the same month. All three consignments were falsely labelled as marine plywood.
The total duty evaded on all the goods was estimated at £670,000.
HMRC assistant director of fraud investigation Sandra Smith said: “This was a shocking attempt to flood the streets with illicit tobacco.
“Aras Rashid thought it was acceptable to line his pockets with money which should have been used to fund our public services and now he is paying the price behind bars.”
He was found guilty of conspiracy to evade excise duty and was sentenced to five years in prison last month.