cigarette smuggling

Teenager, Rebecca Berry, 18, of Downs Lane, Hetton, was arrested and charged by HM Customs and Revenue officers for trying to smuggle 16,600 cigarettes through East Midlands Airport from a flight from Tenerife.

She pleaded guilty to smuggling the cigarettes and evading duty of £2,678 when she arrived at the airport on February 11 from Tenerife.

Loughborough Magistrates’ Court ordered Berry a six month curfew which requires her to stay at her home address between 8pm and 8am, enforced by tagging. The court was also awarded £250 costs.

She was detected at Newcastle Airport in January this year with 16,600 cigarettes and at Heathrow Airport in May 2007 trying to smuggle 17,000 cigarettes into the UK.

On both occasions, the goods were seized and a verbal warning was given, as well as warning letters.

Speaking after Berry’s court appearance, John Macmillan, detection manager for HM Revenue and Customs at East Midlands Airport, said: “We hope this sends a clear message to those involved in cigarette smuggling that we will take action to seize the goods and also to bring criminal proceedings.

“We hope the reality that individuals will receive a criminal record and the courts can impose a range of sentences, including prison, will act as a firm deterrent.”

He added: “We have active and robust teams operating at East Midlands airport and will not hesitate to take action against those dealing in this form of criminality.

“The illicit cigarette trade breeds contempt for the law by encouraging otherwise honest people to trade with criminals and undermines genuine, honest retailers.”

Anyone with information about people importing or dealing in smuggled cigarettes is asked to contact the Customs Confidential Hotline, tel. 0800 59 5000.