Trio to hand over assets after importing more than three million illegal cigarettes into Brandon

Ipswich Crown Court ANL-140617-141524001
Ipswich Crown Court ANL-140617-141524001
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Three men involved in importing more than three million illegal cigarettes into Brandon have today been ordered to hand over all their remaining assets.

The operation by the Thetford-based gang centred on an industrial unit at Brandon Business Centre, in Putney Road, in November 2013.

The men had been under surveillance by HM Revenue and Customs investigators resulting in Arnoldas Gefel, 27, and Tomas Mazilius, 35, being arrested at the scene. A third man, Mantas Vasylius, 28, was arrested at home.

In May the gang were sentenced to a total of more than 11 years at Ipswich Crown

Court.

Investigators discovered 3,300,180 cigarettes hidden inside air conditioning units on which approximately £741,064 in excise duty had never been paid.

Today Gefel and Mazilius appeared at the same court via a video link from HMP Maidstone where they are being held. Vasylius was not present for the Proceeds of Crime Act hearing.

Judge Martyn Levett heard that specialist financial investigators had established that each of the men had benefited from their crime by £889,324 but had only a small fraction of that amount left.

Vasylius, of Peter Drive, Thetford, and Maziulis, of Leicester, were each ordered to hand over £5,503 while Gefel, of St John’s Way, Thetford was told he must pay his last remaining £7,713.

In May, Vasylius, a shop owner, was jailed for five years; Maziulis for three years and two months and Gefel, a shop assistant, for three years and four months.

All had been convicted of fraudulent evasion of excise duty.

Paul Barton, assistant director at HMRC, said: “This gang were caught taking delivery of millions of smuggled cigarettes which they wrongly thought were well hidden inside air conditioning units.

“Not only does this type of criminal activity harm the livelihoods of honest shopkeepers but it is estimated to cost the UK economy £2 billion a year in much needed revenue that should be funding public services.”