Jail for Midlands cigarette smuggling gang members

Seven men who conspired to illegally import 9 million cigarettes have been jailed following an HM Revenue & Customs investigation.

Three of the men were responsible for distributing the cigarettes across the Midlands, while three others smuggled them in from Poland, Latvia and Romania.

A seventh man helped to launder the profits from the operation which evaded £1.5 million in unpaid duty and VAT.

HMRC officials seized stocks of counterfeit and illegally-imported Marlboro, Superkings, Regal, Sovereign, L&M’s and Jin Ling cigarettes at nine locations in the Midlands and Kent in 2009.

John Pointing, assistant director of criminal investigation, said: “These men set out to make vast amounts of money at the expense of legitimate retailers by ripping-off unsuspecting smokers and the taxpayer.

“This will serve as a firm warning to others involved in tobacco smuggling: you will be caught.”

The convicted men and their jail sentences are:

Miqdad Salih, of Purefoy Road, Cheylesmore, Coventry; five years and four months

Goran Ahmed, of Farren Road, Coventry; two years and four months

Khalid Hareem, of Warmwell Close, Coventry; two years and four months

Milian Matei, of Bowthorpe Close, Northampton; two years

Alexsandrs Maculevics, or Archer Road, Stevenage, Hertfordshire; two years

Dmitrijs Smirnovs, Benton Road, Stevenage, Hertfordshire; two years

Ezzat Hamasleh, of Beaks Farm Gardens, Edgbaston, Birmingham; 10 months