A Retford man has been jailed for masterminding the smuggling of almost 800,000 illegal cigarettes.
William McCarthy, 49, of Daneshill Road, was found to have organised the shipment of 788,800 illegal cigarettes, worth £190,337.44 in unpaid duty, by HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) investigators.
HMRC raided Shamrock Recovery on Pike Road Industrial Estate, Tilmanstone, Kent and caught McCarthy’s accomplice Leon Dudley, 35, of no fixed abode, with the cigarettes in February last year.
McCarthy, who was in the area when the site was raided, had been stopped a month earlier when traveling to the continent with £80,560 in cash, which investigators believed he intended to use to buy cigarettes.
Stuart Taylor, Assistant Director, Fraud Investigation Service, HMRC, said: “McCarthy and Dudley wrongly thought they were above the law. They’re now behind bars, paying the price for their crimes.
“Illegal cigarettes harms hardworking, honest businesses and we are determined to ensure there is a level playing field. Anyone with information about illegal cigarettes should call our Fraud Hotline on 0800 788 887.”
McCarthy was stopped at the Channel Tunnel and said he was travelling to Germany to sell beds and furnishings. He was asked at the time if he had any cash and declared £800. A detector dog checked the Ford Transit van and the caravan it was towing. The dog found a carrier bag containing the £80,560 hidden behind the fire and the money was seized.
The pair admitted excise duty fraud, while McCarthy also admitted money laundering. He was sentenced to 28 months in prison and Dudley was jailed for 11 months at Maidstone Crown Court on Monday (June 12).
Confiscation proceedings to recover the stolen tax have begun.