'Foolish' tobacco smugglers sentenced

Seized cigarettesImage source, HMRC
Image caption,
Three Oxford men were stopped after trying to smuggling nine suitcases of "low quality cigarettes" through Manchester Airport

Three "very foolish men" who tried to smuggle more than 220,000 cigarettes through Manchester Airport have been given suspended prison sentences.

Ismaeel Abdul-Kareem, Salem Abdullah and Hardo Artoshy, all from Oxford, were caught with nine suitcases packed with "low quality cigarettes".

They were stopped by the Border Force in January, claiming they did not know the duty free allowance for cigarettes.

All three men were given four months in jail, suspended for two years.

The men, aged between 41 and 46, were stopped at Manchester Airport on 27 January after flying from Iraq via Doha.

'Flashing like beacons'

After two of them claimed they did not know the duty free allowances for cigarettes outside the EU, Artoshy accepted he was aware of the limit.

HM Revenue and Customs said the imported cigarettes had an estimated £77,428 in unpaid duty and VAT.

The three admitted the fraudulent evasion of excise duty at Manchester Minshull Street Crown Court on Monday.

Judge Paul Lawton said: "You are three mature and very foolish men. You tried to make a quick buck importing low quality cigarettes via Manchester Airport.

"I do not know what possessed you to walk through Manchester Airport with three large suitcases, you would be flashing like beacons."

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