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HMRC helps dismantle £600m crime gang

HMRC has helped dismantle a £600m international crime gang involved in cigarette trafficking, drug smuggling and money laundering.

HMRC helps dismantle £600m crime gang
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HMRC dismantle £600m crime gang

Arturs Nespors, 30; Alexksej Rybnikov, 42; and Marius Stancikas, 40, have been jailed for a total 12 years and nine months for smuggling millions of pounds of criminal cash out of the UK as part of an international organised crime gang.

Officers from HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) were supported by West Midlands Police when they arrested the men earlier this year, during a co-ordinated Europe-wide operation aimed at dismantling the international crime network.

During the operation, HMRC recovered more than £1 million at a “cash safe house” in Coventry and another £251,000 from the boot of a car in Manchester. Polish, Lithuanian, Estonian and Spanish authorities carried out simultaneous raids at other target addresses, resulting in a further 18 arrests across Europe.

The organised crime gang is believed to have acquired an estimated 680 million euros as a result of their criminal activities between 2017 and 2019.

HMRC joined law enforcement agencies across Europe in the co-ordinated operation, which was supported by Europol and Eurojust.

The tax authority led UK-based investigations into Nespors, Rybnikov and Stancikas, who were involved in moving millions of pounds of criminal money out of the UK.

The money is believed to have derived from the sale of illicit tobacco, alcohol and drugs.

According to HMRC, the trio used a house in Coventry as a hub for their criminal operation and smuggled large sums of cash out of the country hidden amongst clothes in shrink-wrapped suitcases.

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