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Maida Vale airport worker jailed for smuggling

PUBLISHED: 14:47 30 January 2009 | UPDATED: 15:53 07 September 2010

A HEATHROW cargo worker from Maida Vale has been jailed for four years for smuggling 4million cigarettes into the UK - costing taxpayers £850,000. Mohamed Sami Kaak, 41, of Fermoy Road, was caught after customs officers at Heathrow found 20,000 cigarettes

A HEATHROW cargo worker from Maida Vale has been jailed for four years for smuggling 4million cigarettes into the UK - costing taxpayers £850,000.

Mohamed Sami Kaak, 41, of Fermoy Road, was caught after customs officers at Heathrow found 20,000 cigarettes in a freight consignment from Tunisia which had not been lodged with customs.

CCTV revealed the cigarettes were taken from an arriving plane and loaded into a van usually used for exports.

Further checks showed a total of 13 imports between March 2005 and September 2006 - containing approximately four million cigarettes - had been dealt with in the same way.

Passing sentence at Isleworth Crown Court on Friday last week, Judge Jonathan Lowen said Mr Kaak had abused his privileged position along with colleague Hatem Bin Ali Arfaoui, 34. Van driver Arfaoui, a Tunisian living in Elmbridge Avenue, Surbiton, was sentenced to three years and nine months for his part in the smuggling operation.

Stuart Robinson, senior investigation officer for HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC), said: "The sentences handed out send a clear message to those who abuse their positions of trust at Heathrow Airport in order to facilitate criminal enterprise.

"HMRC will vigorously pursue them, stop their illegal activity and ensure revenue such as that evaded on these cigarettes will be available to fund the UK's public services.

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