Cigarette smuggling plotters jailed

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A ROTHERHAM man is among three offenders sentenced for their part in a smuggling plot that flooded the county’s streets with millions of cigarettes and thousands of pouches of hand-rolling tobacco.

Botan Aziz, aged 26, of Ferham Road, Holmes, received a suspended three-month prison sentence after being found guilty of dealing with non-duty-paid excise goods. He also admitted obstruction.

A court heard he grabbed a bag of seized contraband, and ran off with it as customs officers were packing up after a raid on a mini market in Doncaster where the cigarettes and tobacco were sold.

The shop, Sunrise Mini Market, on St Sepulchre Gate West, Doncaster, was run by Nawzad Kamel Mustafa, aged 31, of St James Street, Hyde Park, Doncaster.

He was jailed for six years after being found guilty of two counts of dealing in non-duty excise goods. The unpaid duty on the goods is estimated to be worth £985,000.

Employee Hatim Tahir Omar, 26, of Sandringham Road, Intake, Doncaster, was jailed for five years after being found guilty of the same two offences.

Mustafa and Omar were caught after customs officers visited the mini market four times in seven months.

Each time they seized smuggled cigarettes and hand rolling tobacco which had been hidden in a locked sweet cabinet, under a pile of onions and in the sleeves of a jacket.

Omar had been looking after the shop on three visits. His vehicle and flat were searched and more tobacco found.Paperwork removed from the shop, Mustafa’s home and Omar’s flat indicated the men had been trading in smuggled cigarettes and tobacco since May 2009.

It is estimated they sold over two million cigarettes and 66,000 pouches of tobacco.