Men jailed over counterfeit cigarettes

Two men from the West Midlands have been jailed for their role in a plot to flood the region with 500,000 counterfeit cigarettes, branded as Superkings, following an investigation by HM Revenue amp; Customs (HMRC). The potential revenue loss on the haul was over £90,000.

The two men, Abdullah Karim and Hiwa Ali, were stopped in Lichfield, Staffordshire, by police on 25 November 2009, in an initiative to detect and disrupt criminal activity on major roads. The van they were driving was full of large cardboard boxes containing the cigarettes. The pair were arrested by HMRC officers on 26 November 2009 and later charged with tobacco smuggling offences under the Customs and Excise Management Act 1979.

Both men were found guilty and Abdullah Karim was sentenced to 12 months in prison and Hiwa Ali received a nine-month prison sentence.

Adrian Farley, assistant director of criminal investigation for HMRC, said: “This latest investigation highlights our success in bringing to justice those responsible for this illegal trade across the West Midlands. Far from offering the consumer a ‘so called’ bargain the goods are unregulated and it’s anyone’s guess as to what they actually contain. In addition there are no safeguards to underage sales or the conditions in which they are kept.”

He added: “We need the help of local people and businesses to help us stamp out this illegal trade, which costs public funds £2bn a year in lost revenue. Anyone with information about the storage or sale of illegal tobacco should contact the Customs Hotline on 0800 59 5000. Calls can be made anonymously.”

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