Cigarettes seized were shipped from abroad and stored in Darlington

An example of smuggled cigarettes seized by customs at a UK port

LEAD WITH GRAPHIC - Men jailed over £4m cigarette smuggling scam

First published in News
Last updated
Darlington and Stockton Times: Photograph of the Author by , Regional Reporter

TWO Russian men have been jailed for their part in a cigarette smuggling scam which cost the Exchequer more than £4m in lost duty.

Dzmitry Baranau and co-accused Vitally Vasilyev both admitted conspiracy to evade £4,051,746 of excess duty between August and October last year in what Teesside Crown Court was told was a “sophisticated operation”.

A number of consignments, containing more than 12 million cigarettes, were shipped illegally from Denmark into the port of Immingham, in Lincolnshire, and then carried by road via the A1(M) to Darlington.

They were then stored in a unit on the town’s Alliance Industrial Estate, in Dodsworth Street, and destined to be distributed north of the border, in Scotland.

However, Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs (HMRC) were carrying out a surveillance operation and intercepted one of the lorries whose load of cigarettes had been disguised as barbecue equipment.

Baranau, 30, was described in court as a trusted foreman with an “essential” role, while 31-year-old Vasilyev acted as a warehouseman and was responsible for unloading the goods in Darlington.

They were jailed by Recorder Felicity Davies for three years, four months and 22 months respectively.

Despite the huge sums of money involved Baranau will only pay back £6,860 and Vasilyev £4,690 – compensation orders sought by the Crown and agreed by the judge.

Meanwhile, three other men who were arrested in connection with the conspiracy have yet to be charged. Hal Watson, prosecuting, said they had skipped bail and it was believed they may have now left the country.

He said: “When one looks at this case in the round there are others involved in it at a higher level.”

Mr Watson said text messages attributed to Baranau, of Grenier Apartments, London, suggested he had physical control of the operation and was responsible for issuing directions to those driving the consignments to Darlington.

A number of “dummy runs” also took place before the arrival of the first consignment in Immingham on September 11 last year, which held 6.5m cigarettes. All the cigarettes seized have now been destroyed.

Baranau was said to be living in a flat in Newcastle and earning only about £8,000-a-year as a handyman when he was approached and offered a job in “logistics”.

He felt under pressure to remain involved in the scam because of fears about the welfare of his family.

His barrister Dan Cordey said he had amassed no hidden riches and was directed by others.

Peter Makepeace, for Vasilyev, of Curzon Place, Gateshead, said his role was that of a manual labourer.

A HMRC spokeswoman said its investigations were still ongoing and it had no further comment.

About a third of all tobacco smoked in the North-East is non-UK duty paid and therefore illegal. Cigarette smuggling costs the UK taxpayer £900m in lost revenue each year.

Comments (4)

Please log in to enable comment sorting

6:14pm Tue 25 Feb 14

stevegg says...

" They were jailed by Recorder Felicity Davies for three years, four months and 22 months respectively - Despite the huge sums of money involved Baranau will only pay back £6,860 and Vasilyev £4,690".
How can you call that Justice when they have got away without paying £4 million in taxes! No deportation surprise, surprise, crime does pay. UK justice is a joke which law abiding taxpayers have to foot the bill for whilst criminals get treated softly, softly!
" They were jailed by Recorder Felicity Davies for three years, four months and 22 months respectively - Despite the huge sums of money involved Baranau will only pay back £6,860 and Vasilyev £4,690". How can you call that Justice when they have got away without paying £4 million in taxes! No deportation surprise, surprise, crime does pay. UK justice is a joke which law abiding taxpayers have to foot the bill for whilst criminals get treated softly, softly! stevegg
  • Score: 21

2:50pm Wed 26 Feb 14

Stuart Arnold says...

For the record Baranau is an EU resident, therefore presumably not eligible for deportation. Vasilyev was said to be applying for residency.
For the record Baranau is an EU resident, therefore presumably not eligible for deportation. Vasilyev was said to be applying for residency. Stuart Arnold
  • Score: -1

3:29pm Wed 26 Feb 14

NO EINSTEIN says...

Oh my heart bleeds for the Exchequer, perhaps if this government did not rape its citizens with such high taxes, this sort of thing would not be necessary, yes I meant necessary.
Oh my heart bleeds for the Exchequer, perhaps if this government did not rape its citizens with such high taxes, this sort of thing would not be necessary, yes I meant necessary. NO EINSTEIN
  • Score: 6

6:25pm Wed 26 Feb 14

thetruthyoucanthandlethetruth says...

NO EINSTEIN wrote:
Oh my heart bleeds for the Exchequer, perhaps if this government did not rape its citizens with such high taxes, this sort of thing would not be necessary, yes I meant necessary.
I think you have a good point here regarding taxes.
[quote][p][bold]NO EINSTEIN[/bold] wrote: Oh my heart bleeds for the Exchequer, perhaps if this government did not rape its citizens with such high taxes, this sort of thing would not be necessary, yes I meant necessary.[/p][/quote]I think you have a good point here regarding taxes. thetruthyoucanthandlethetruth
  • Score: 3

Comments are closed on this article.

Send us your news, pictures and videos

Most read stories

Local Info

Enter your postcode, town or place name

About cookies

We want you to enjoy your visit to our website. That's why we use cookies to enhance your experience. By staying on our website you agree to our use of cookies. Find out more about the cookies we use.

I agree