10:41 Thursday 14 November 2013

Van driver who smuggled thousands of pounds worth of cigarettes into UK is jailed

Written byJORDAN DAY

Darius Rutkauskas Darius Rutkauskas

A van driver caught with tens of thousands of pounds worth of smuggled cigarettes has been jailed.

Darius Rutkauskas, 36, was stopped by police on the side of the A142 between Ely and Soham in January this year.

During a search of his vehicle they found over 12kg of hand rolling tobacco (HRT) in the front foot well.

HM Revenues and Customs officers were called in and interviewed Rutkauskas at his home in Whitgrift Road, Teversham, a few days later.

His parked van was searched and officers found further quantities of smuggled cigarettes and tobacco.

Over 1,400 Lithuanian cigarettes were discovered in the front of the van, and a brown cardboard box located the rear contained 20kg of hand rolling tobacco.

A search of his house uncovered another 85kg of HRT, over 38,100 mixed brand cigarettes concealed in the upstairs rooms and 60kg of HRT in boxes in his garage.

Rutkauskas was charged with being fraudulently concerned in the evasion of duty, with the estimated excise duty loss of £38,303, and yesterday (Wednesday) he was sentenced at Ipswich Crown Court.

He was sentenced to 16 months - half of which he will serve in jail and the other half of which will be suspended on licence.

Paul Barton, assistant director of criminal investigation for HMRC, said: “Rutkauskas was caught red-handed with tobacco in his van that he knew was illegal.

“He blatantly continued his illegal activities and was again found in possession of larger quantities of smuggled cigarettes and tobacco.

“This criminal activity damages not only the UK economy but the livelihoods of local Cambridgeshire shop keepers who have to compete against this illegal trade.

“People with information about tobacco smuggling should call our Customs Hotline on 0800 59 5000.”

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