Family members who tried to smuggle cigarettes in 15 suitcases through Birmingham Airport are handed suspended sentences

Three members of a family who tried to smuggle cigarettes through Birmingham Airport inside 15 suitcases have been given suspended sentences following an investigation by HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC).

Back in May 2018 Juned Ahmed and his wife, Shalma Khanom from Tipton, were stopped along with Syeda Begum from Birmingham after returning from a three-day trip to Dubai.

The group were challenged by Border Force officers after they walked through the airport’s nothing to declare channel. Investigators began checking the suitcases to find them packed with thousands of non-duty paid Benson and Hedges cigarettes.

All three pleaded guilty at Birmingham Crown Court on 31 July 2019 and last week (22/08) were each handed 16 months custodial sentences, suspended for two years.

An HMRC spokesperson said: “People like Ahmed, Khanom and Begum deprive our public services of vital funding. This was a blatant attempt to smuggle cigarettes into the UK and it would have cost taxpayers thousands of pounds in lost revenue.

“HMRC works with partners to tackle the illicit tobacco trade and anyone who thinks they can smuggle cigarettes into the UK and gain an unfair advantage over legitimate, law-abiding cigarette sellers who are paying the tax they owe.

“We ask anyone with information about any tax fraud to report to HMRC online or call our Fraud Hotline on 0800 788 887.”

Information about any type of tax fraud can also be reported to HMRC online at www.gov.uk/report-an-unregistered-trader-or-business.