A man has been sentenced after he was caught smuggling 900 kilos of illicit tobacco.
Ahsan Javed, from Motherwell, evaded more than £120,000 in excise duty in the fraud, a HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) investigation found.
The 43-year-old was sentenced to 200 hours of unpaid work on Tuesday after pleading guilty on August 28 at Lanark Sheriff Court.
Javed’s white Mercedes Sprinter van was stopped on the southbound carriageway of the M74 near Beattock by police officers on July 3, 2017.
Police suspected the van was overweight, and when they looked inside, they found 50g pouches of hand-rolled tobacco, which had no markings of UK duty being paid.
HMRC officers were called to investigate and discovered 898 kilos of illicit tobacco inside 90 black bags. Javed told the officers he was transporting the tobacco to Birmingham.
He was detained and charged with excise duty fraud on the same day.
Joe Hendry, assistant director of the Fraud Investigation Service at HMRC, said: “People like Javed, who are involved in the supply and sale of illicit tobacco and cigarettes, are depriving public services of vital funding and undermining legitimate traders.
“The tax lost is more than the average cost of a house in North Lanarkshire.”
Chief Inspector Darren Faulds, of Police Scotland’s road policing unit, said: “We put considerable effort into deterring criminals from using the road network for their own illegal ends and detecting those who choose to do so.
“Highly visible and unmarked patrols are carried out every day, particularly on key motorway routes such as in this case.
“We are committed to working closely with partners from HMRC and Trading Standards to bring anyone found to be carrying illegal or fraudulent goods to justice.”