A Manchester man has been sentenced for his part in a plot to smuggle thousands of packets of illegal cigarettes into the UK hidden in flooring pallets.
Mariusz Grygo, 56, of Great Cheetham Street, was caught by HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) officers when he went to collect the 163,800 cigarettes that had been concealed in pallets of wooden flooring brought from Poland.
The director of a Dewsbury-based freight forwarding company discovered the cigarettes, which were worth £40,268 in unpaid duty, in November 2016 after one of the pallets had been damaged in storage and reported it to HMRC.
Grygo arrived at the freight company the following day to collect the Russian-made Jin Ling cigarettes, which had been hidden within shrink-wrapped flooring insulation boards. He was arrested by HMRC investigators who also seized the cigarettes.
Eden Noblett, Assistant Director, Fraud Investigation Service, HMRC, said:
“Grygo played a key role in this black market plot. He desperately lied to try and cover up his crime that harms honest businesses.
“Tobacco smuggling steals money from our public services. The unpaid duty could have paid for two kidney transplants on the NHS. I urge anyone with information about smuggled or counterfeit tobacco to report it to HMRC online or call our Fraud Hotline on 0800 788 887.”
Grygo claimed to have been paid £200 to deliver the pallets to a Manchester address and said he believed they contained egg shells. HMRC investigators found photos and text messages related to the sale of cigarettes on Grygo’s mobile.
He was convicted of evading excise duty at Manchester Crown Court and was sentenced to 15 months in prison suspended for two years at the same court today (18 October). He was also ordered to complete 150 hours of unpaid community work.