Six men sentenced for £500k tobacco smuggling ring involving shisha cafe in Kilburn

15:52 14 October 2013

Tobacco delivered to Dubai hotel prior to re-packaging

Tobacco delivered to Dubai hotel prior to re-packaging

Archant

Six men have been sentenced for their role in a gang which smuggled shisha tobacco into the UK to use in a café in Kilburn.

Sayyeduz Chowdhury  has been jailed for two yearsSayyeduz Chowdhury has been jailed for two years

Brothers Mahfouz Chowdhury, 30, and Sayyeduz Chowdhury, 28, were the ringleaders of the group which arranged for more than 5.8 tonnes of the tobacco to be brought into the UK.

The Old Bailey heard the gang avoided more than £500,000 tax.

The men were snared after officers from Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs (HMRC) discovered 2,200 packages claiming to be Arabian incense in a shipment from Dubai in April last year.

When the false labels were removed the true contents were revealed.

Mahfouz Chowdhury has been sentenced to two years and four monthsMahfouz Chowdhury has been sentenced to two years and four months

The consignment, weighed 2.2 tonnes, was destined for Sahar Lounge Ltd, which operates a shisha café in Willesden Lane which the brothers are directors of.

Further enquiries revealed that the brothers had arranged four previous importations from the United Arab Emirates in the previous six months, each described as Arabian incense.

The shipments weighed 3.6 tonnes and arrived via Heathrow Airport and the Port of Felixstowe.

The Chowdhury were arrested and when their mobile phones were seized and analysed photographs of the tobacco being repackaged, and hundreds of text messages to other people involved in the smuggling and distribution of the tobacco were uncovered.

Haul of 300kg tobacco seizureHaul of 300kg tobacco seizure

These included Sunit Vekaria, who had paid Mahfouz Chowdhury more than £10,000 to buy shisha tobacco in Dubai, and Asadur Rahman, a co-director of Sahar Lounge Ltd.

Rahman’s mobile revealed texts discussing a 300kg importation to and from Luthfur Rahman, Abdulah Al Mohammed Rafi and Mohbubur Rahman.

John Pointing from HMRC, said: “Led by the Chowdhury brothers, the gang looked to flood London streets with illegal shisha and pocket the taxes due. We are investing more time and resources than ever in tackling the threat posed to the UK economy by tobacco smuggling and will not cease in our efforts to stamp out this trade.”

Adel Al-Khazraji of Wembley and Sunit Vekaria of Harrow will be sentenced at the same court next month.

Sign up for our news alerts today!

Our editors' picks for the day's top news delivered to your inbox or phone.

Sign up for email alerts Sign up for mobile alerts
1
2 3 4 5 6
7

Latest Crime news

Friday, May 1, 2015
Benson Igbokwe. Pic: Met Police

A man has been jailed after he held a gun at point-blank range at a manager of a Knightsbridge boutique store in an attempted kidnap.

Friday, May 1, 2015
Gulam Chowdhury has been sentenced to life in jail

The man who killed his love rival by stabbing him 20 times with a large kitchen knife has been sentenced to life behind bars.

Friday, May 1, 2015
Police have released an image of a man who allegedly exposed himself to a teenager in a Burger King restaurant.

Police have released an image of a man who allegedly exposed himself to a 16-year-old girl in a Burger King restaurant in west London.

Friday, May 1, 2015
Nur Nordin owned some of the most extreme child pornography police had ever seen - and a life-siized mannequin of a little boy [Photograph from Metropolitan Police]

An international student at Imperial College London has been jailed for possessing “some of the most extreme images that have ever been seen” by child sex abuse officers.

Thursday, April 30, 2015
Police would like to speak to these men in connection with the attack [Photo by British Transport Police]

CCTV pictures of four men believed to have violently attacked a 30-year-old man with bits of wood at Forest Gate station have been released.

Thursday, April 30, 2015
Police believe the gun may have been owned by a gang member [Photo by Metropolitan Police]

An Uzi sub-machine gun has been found by police in a cemetery off Mitcham Road in Croydon, Scotland Yard said.

What is this?

Near You Now

Don't Miss...

Competitions

Pop on the most stylish eyewear around from Specsavers.

London eyecare specialists Specsavers are offering London24 readers the chance to win a £150 voucher to spend on stylish eyewear in the city.

Read more
A swastika daubed on a poster promoting Simon Marcus.

Conservatives in Hampstead and Kilburn are calling in the police over anti-Semitic graffiti found daubed on posters promoting parliamentary candidate Simon Marcus in Queen’s Park.