Family tried to smuggle cigarettes through Birmingham Airport in 15 suitcases

Three members of a family who tried to smuggle cigarettes through Birmingham Airport inside 15 suitcases have been given suspended sentences totalling four years after an investigation by HMRC.

Taxi driver, Juned Ahmed, 42 and his wife, Shalma Khanom, 38, both from Tipton, were stopped along with Syeda Begum, 42, from Birmingham.

The couple, who told officers they were related to Begum, landed in the West Midlands with 166,000 cigarettes, worth more than £66,754 in evaded duty.

The group were challenged by Border Force officers after they walked through the airport’s nothing to declare channel, after returning from a three-day trip to Dubai, on 6 May 2018.

Investigators discovered very few personal belongings or clothes, but the suitcases were filled with non-duty paid Benson and Hedges cigarettes.

All three were sentenced at Birmingham Crown Court on 22 August 2019 and were each handed 16 months custodial sentences, suspended for two years. An HMRC spokesperson said:

“People like Ahmed, Khanom and Begum deprive our public services of vital funding. This was a blatant attempt to smuggle cigarettes into the UK and it would have cost taxpayers thousands of pounds in lost revenue.

“HMRC works with partners to tackle the illicit tobacco trade and anyone who thinks they can smuggle cigarettes into the UK and gain an unfair advantage over legitimate, law-abiding cigarette sellers who are paying the tax they owe.

“We ask anyone with information about any tax fraud to report to HMRC online or call our Fraud Hotline on 0800 788 887.”

Information about any type of tax fraud can also be reported to HMRC online at


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