Woman tried to smuggle eight suitcases of cigarettes

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A woman tried to smuggle eight suitcases of cigarettes into the UK worth thousands in lost duty and taxes.

The 55,000 cigarettes that Shantaz Bi, of Savile Grove, Dewsbury, brought back to Birmingham Airport were worth more than £13,000 to HM Revenue & Customs.

She was arrested by UK Border Force officers after returning from Pakistan last September when they found the packs wrapped in foil during a search of her suitcases.

Colin Booker, HMRC’s assistant director of criminal investigation, said: “We suspect that these cigarettes were destined to be sold in West Yorkshire.

“The unregulated sale of illegal cigarettes is not a victimless or harmless crime, and encourages otherwise honest people to trade with criminals.

“It undermines legitimate retailers who have to compete with illegal imports, but also costs the UK economy around £2bn a year to spend on public services.

“We will continue to tackle excise fraud at all points of the supply chain and would encourage people with information about tobacco smuggling should contact the Customs’ Hotline on 0800 59 5000.”

Bi, 42, pleaded guilty to fraudulent evasion of excise duty at Birmingham Magistrates Court on February 25, with the total duty evaded standing at £13,070.33.

She was sentenced to six months, suspended for two years at Birmingham Crown Court on Wednesday March 25.