ONE of the leaders of a gang which set up an illegal tobacco factory in Chesterfield capable of producing 625 million counterfeit cigarettes and five million pouches of fake hand-rolling tobacco has been jailed for two years and six months.
Dutch national Marius Klein, aged 57, who was extradited from Poland, was the final member to be sentenced from a 10-man gang involved in the illegal enterprise.
The gang was prosecuted for a £131 million tax fraud after they were caught by HM Revenue & Customs criminal investigators, who had secretly tracked their every move.
Investigators closed down the fully-equipped cigarette factory in Chesterfield before it went into production in October 2009.
Gary Lampon, assistant director of criminal investigation for HMRC, said: “The scale of this fraud was staggering.
“Klein had a key role in the conspiracy to launch a UK production facility, manufacturing counterfeit tobacco goods by the million.
“The gang’s ambition to progress from importing counterfeit cigarettes to manufacturing them on an industrial scale shows a determined ruthlessness to line their own pockets.”