TWO brothers who smuggled more than 18 million cigarettes into the UK to sell through their Ellesmere Port cash-and-carry business have been jailed for four years.
From 2008-2010 Martin Gajdos, 41, and Peter Gajdos, 43, originally from Slovakia, used their food importation business at an industrial unit on Meadow Lane, as a front to sell £6.6m worth of illegally imported cigarettes – cheating HM Revenue and Customs out of more than £3m in unpaid duty.
The brothers, who lived next door to each other in Bunbury Green, Ellesmere Port, were arrested after a truck transporting products to their company, Peter and Martin Ltd, was stopped at Dover by the UK Border Agency on June 10, 2010.
Officers found more than 1.5 million L&M cigarettes hidden behind pallets of food imported from Slovakia.
An extensive investigation by HMRC revealed that between January 1, 2008, and June 11, 2011, the brothers evaded £2,953,687 worth of duty on illegally imported cigarettes and a further £57,586.18 of duty on imported Slovakian beers, brandy, rum and absinthe.
On Thursday Chester Crown Court heard how the brothers’ meticulous record keeping had been their ultimate undoing.
Simon Berkson, prosecuting, said: “While they took care to hide the products on board the trailers, that was not the case with regard to their record keeping.”
Raymond Herman, defending, said: “They are not the brains of the criminal world. When they moved to this country they worked seven days a week saving money to open their own business, they saw a niche for selling foreign food stuffs in the UK and that is what they did when they opened the business in 2007.”
Sentencing the brothers to four years in jail, the Recorder of Chester Judge Elgan Edwards, said: “This is not the type of behaviour we want to see in Ellesmere Port, or anywhere in the country. You knew what you were doing and how to do it and you were very successful.”