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Fake cigarette gang's 'large-scale operation'.

Byline: Jasbir Authi

A MIDLAND man has been jailed for his part in a separate smuggling operation which saw three million counterfeit cigarettes shipped into the region from Belgium.

Robert Stephen Orton, of Walford Drive, Solihull, was sentenced to ten months in prison at Birmingham Crown Court.

Orton, a father-of-one, had worked in the motor trade and, more recently, the music industry, prior to his arrest.

The 46-year-old's three accomplices, from Nottinghamshire, were also jailed. A confiscation order was being pursued against the defendants.

HM Revenue & Customs said the gang hid their consignment of fake Regal Kingsize in sealed glass units as they shipped them into Britain.

HMRC officers found them during a raid at a commercial unit at Hales Industrial Estate in Coventry in April 2007. If they had hit the streets they would have cost the public purse pounds 500,000 in unpaid revenue.

The consignment consisted of four large metal frames which each contained sheets of plate glass.

Hidden behind the glass were 'coffin' concealments which had been manufactured to hide the cigarettes.

The court heard Orton was responsible for organising the Coventry warehouse and he also paid and arranged for a forklift truck to shift the consignment.

Adrian Farley, Assistant Director of Criminal Investigation for HMRC, said: "This was a large scale smuggling operation designed to flood the West Midlands with cigarettes at 'bargain prices'.

"Far from being a 'bargain' though, they were in fact all counterfeit."

Nigel James Barton, 45, of Greythorne Drive, West Bridgford, and David Scott, also 45 of Thoresby Lane, Woodthorpe, were sent to prison for 12 months each. Anthony Baker, aged 48, of Ivatt Drive, Findon, was sentenced to three months.

CAPTION(S):

Locked up: Robert Stephen Orton and right, the glass containers.
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Publication:Birmingham Mail (England)
Geographic Code:4EUUK
Date:Apr 21, 2011
Words:292
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