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Tobacco smugglers caught red handed in Cheshire raid

Over six million Mayfair brand cigarettes were seized in the raid

Two men sentenced after being found with millions of cigarettes.

The men from Merseyside were found with over six million illegal cigarettes at an industrial unit in Middlewich.

Officers from HM Revenue & Customs seized 6,150,000 Mayfair brand cigarettes, worth almost £2 million in unpaid taxes, and £1,500 in cash at the lock-up.

Lee Slevin, 36, previously of Liverpool, and Patrick Walsh, 60, from Roby, were caught by HMRC loading the cartons of cigarettes into a van.

The operation took place in February 2016, and the two suspects were finally sentenced at Chester Crown Court on Friday.

Both men admitted excise fraud at an earlier hearing. Slevin was jailed for three years for his role in the smuggling, and Walsh was sentenced to two years, suspended for two years.

A spokesperson for HMRC said:

"This was a shocking attempt to put millions of illicit cigarettes on the streets, which would have caused real harm to legitimate, hardworking traders.

Both men thought they could deal in smuggled cigarettes without being caught. But they were wrong and now they are paying the price."

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