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  1. ITV Report

Failsworth man hid illegal cigarettes in frozen onions

Cigarettes were hidden in packs of frozen onions Photo: HMRC

A Failsworth man, has been jailed for 12 months for his part in a £150,000 tobacco tax fraud after HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) officers seized illegal cigarettes that had been smuggled into the UK inside frozen onions.

Marius Majchrzak, 43, of Moston Lane East was caught by HMRC officers handling smuggled cigarettes in the Cheetham Hill area in July 2014.

Sandra Smith, Assistant Director, Fraud Investigation Service, HMRC, said:

You could say that when it comes to disrupting this type of criminal trade, we know our onions. This work is at the heart of our strategy to clampdown on the illicit tobacco market, which costs the UK around £2 billion a year.

This is theft from the taxpayer and undermines legitimate traders. The storage, transport and sale of illegal tobacco products will not be tolerated – regardless of what they are hidden in.

– Sandra Smith

Majchrzak was arrested at a storage unit containing more than 600,000 smuggled cigarettes. He had the electronic fob for unlocking the unit in his possession and outside was a lorry that had been used to smuggled cigarettes hidden in a freight consignment of frozen onions. Illegal tobacco products were also found during a search of his Mercedes car and home. In addition, Majchrzak had large quantities of criminal cash at his house and a money counting machine.

Anyone with information about the trade in smuggled or counterfeit tobacco can contact the Customs Hotline on 0800 59 5000 to report it.

Majchrzak now faces confiscation proceedings to recover his criminal profits and the stolen tax.