Group admit smuggling £78,000 worth of tobacco from Afghanistan

group admit smuggling 78000 worth of tobacco from afghanistan - Group admit smuggling £78,000 worth of tobacco from Afghanistan
group admit smuggling 78000 worth of tobacco from afghanistan 1 - Group admit smuggling £78,000 worth of tobacco from Afghanistan

Four people have admitted their roles in a military tobacco and cigarette smuggling racket.

It is said that the gang brought the tobacco into the country from Afghanistan and the Middle East before selling it on.

The goods, thought to be worth in the region of £78,000, are thought to have come into the UK through RAF Northolt, in West London.

Gert Coetzee, David McEwan, Gareth Parry and Jennifer Cherry all pleaded guilty to conspiracy to evade duty when they appeared before Swindon Crown Court.

They admitted that between November 21, 2017, and April 9 last year they were involved in the illegal trade in cigarettes and hand rolling tobacco.

And Parry, 37, of Dydale Road, Swindon, also admitted a second charge of evading duty relating to the seven months leading up to the end of October 2016.

Coetzee, 49, of Morcombe Road, Fairford; McEwan, 40, of Cleveland Road; Cherry, 38, Meadowsweet Close, both Swindon; and Parry, have been released on bail.

They will face sentence after four others, who pleaded not guilty to the conspiracy, have stood trial.

They are Jan Coetzee, 37, of Drift Way, Cirencester; Rosie Parry, 30, of Dydale Road, Swindon; Gary Tomlinson, 31, of Gray Road, South Cerney; and Ben Wilson, 31, of Pevensey Way, Quedgeley, 31.

Judge Peter Crabreee OBE released them on unconditional bail to a trial date to be fixed, thought to be in the late summer or autumn.

He said it was important that the postings of those in the military was known so they would not be abroad at the time of the hearing.

The court was told that two other soldiers, a captain and a sergeant, had each received cautions for their parts in the operation.

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