A truck driver who was paid £ 10,000 to smuggle hundreds of thousands of cigarettes and nearly two tonnes of hand-rolling tobacco into the country has been jailed.

Peter Szalay, 40, from Hungary, was arrested as he arrived in Dover on a ferry from Calais on April 17 by officials from border forces.

Peter Szalay was sentenced to 20 months in prison

During a search of his truck, officers found 639,000 illicit cigarettes and 1.9 tonnes of roll-your-own tobacco hidden among packets of dried noodle soup.

The duty evaded on tobacco was £ 749,272.

Szalay admitted that he had been paid £ 5,000 to import the unpaid tobacco and cigarettes and that he was to receive an additional £ 5,000 on delivery.

Appearing at Folkestone Magistrates’ Court in April, he pleaded guilty to fraudulent excise duty evasion and was sentenced this week to 20 months in prison in Maidstone Crown Court.

HM Revenue and Customs seized him £ 4,830 in cash, which was confiscated in a court hearing earlier this month. Tobacco and cigarettes have been seized and will be destroyed.

Cigarettes and tobacco were found in Szalay's truck - hidden among packets of dried noodle soup
Cigarettes and tobacco were found in Szalay’s truck – hidden among packets of dried noodle soup

A spokesperson for HMRC said: “The sale of illegal tobacco will not be tolerated by HMRC. It is taxpayer theft and undermines legitimate traders. We encourage anyone with information about the illegal sale of tobacco to report it online or call our anti-fraud hotline on 0800 788 887. “

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