Banbury couple caught selling cigarettes illegally on Facebook
Products seized at their Mold Crescent home had a street value of £20,000
A Banbury couple had over 44,000 illicit cigarettes and 24.5 kilograms of hand-rolling tobacco stashed within the lounge, master bedroom and loft of their property when raided by Trading Standards and the Police.
The illegal activities of forty-two year old Krzysztof Bugno and his wife Ewelina Bugno, who’s forty-one, were discovered after investigators responded to an advert on Facebook.
The products seized from the address in Mold Cresent had a street value of £20,000.
The pair appeared at Oxford Magistrates’ Court last Friday (November 3), where they both entered guilty pleas to eight charges, including being knowingly concerned in the fraudulent evasion of duty.
The court heard that on August 31, 2021, an undercover operative bought 10 packets of L & M cigarettes for £60 after responding to the Facebook advert. They were directed to the Bugno’s home address where Ewelina was recorded on a covert camera making the sale.
A follow-up took place on October 5, 2021, when 10 more packets were purchased, this time from Krzysztof Bugno.
A warrant to enter the property was executed on October 8 and the illicit loot discovered.
Mobile phones were seized from each suspect with experts at the National Trading Standards E-crime Unit called in to gain access to Mr Bugno’s phone, which revealed substantial evidence of illegal trading between June 2019 and October 2021.
The prosecution alleged that the pair had evaded paying at least £40,000 in duty during this period.
Councillor Dr Nathan Ley, Cabinet Member for Public Health, Inequalities and Community Safety, said: “Oxfordshire’s trading standards team, working in partnership with Thames Valley Police and other agencies will continue to crack down on the sale of these illegal products. People can help us to stamp out illegal tobacco and create a healthier and safer Oxfordshire by being vigilant and reporting any suspicious activity using the illegal tobacco hotline.”
Jody Kerman, Oxfordshire County Council’s Head of Trading Standards, added: “We are serious about taking action whenever we find anyone selling illegal tobacco. Its sale not only avoids taxation, which means less money for schools, the NHS and local communities, it also undermines legitimate businesses in Oxfordshire and puts money into the hands of criminals.”
Sentencing is due to take place back at Oxford Crown Court on November 30.
Published: by Banbury FM Newsteam