Rotherham shopkeeper jailed after being caught with 120,000 illicit cigarettes

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Court News

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A Rotherham shopkeeper caught with more than 120,000 illegal cigarettes has been jailed for four months.

Karjion Ibrahim Ahmad, 40, who runs the East Mini Market on Wellgate, was sent to prison after being caught for the fourth time with illicit tobacco.

Thousands of cigarettes were found inside his home in Oxley Grove hidden in suitcases in August 2013, with a later search of his shop revealing 25 more packets.

The cigarettes were worth almost £30,000 in unpaid duty.

He was caught following an investigation by HM Revenue and Customs.

Enquiries revealed that non-duty paid tobacco had been seized from Ahmad’s shop on three previous occasions – in 2009, 2011 and 2012.

Ahmad pleaded guilty to the fraudulent evasion of excise duty in July and was jailed at Sheffield Crown Court this week for four months following the latest find.

Stuart Taylor, assistant director for criminal investigation at HMRC, said criminals such as Ahmad undermine legitimate traders - while the illicit tobacco costs the country billions of pounds each year in unpaid tax.

He said: “Ahmad persistently flouted the law by peddling his contraband to the people of Rotherham.

“Disrupting criminal trade is at the heart of our strategy to clampdown on the illicit tobacco market, which costs the UK around £2.1 billion a year.

“This is theft from the taxpayer and undermines legitimate traders.”

During interview, Ahmad said he was simply looking after the suitcases for a Polish man and didn’t know they contained tobacco.

He claimed the cigarettes found at his shop were ‘payments’ he had received in exchange for food items.