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Woman smuggled cigarettes from China disguised as shoes

Xiao Guo ordered almost 20,000 cigarettes to her Glasgow home but they were intercepted by HMRC.

Court: Guo will be sentenced next month.
Court: Guo will be sentenced next month. © STV

A mother tried to smuggle cigarettes into Scotland disguised as shoes to avoid paying duty on them.

Xiao Guo, 32, ordered almost 20,000 cigarettes from China but they were intercepted by HMRC at the sorting office, after they received a tip off.

Five packages addressed to Guo's home were examined at the depot in February last year - with labels that indicated the package contained shoes.

Instead thousands of Malrboro Gold cigarettes were found inside.

Further packages with cigarettes including Chinese brands were stopped and opened.

HMRC searched Guo's home in Calton, Glasgow that month and discovered a Royal Mail box similar to those at the sorting office, as well as a book with figures and numbers and postal references.

Guo pled guilty at Glasgow Sheriff Court to attempting to evade paying £6,390 duty on cigarettes and attempted to have packages delivered from China, between February 14 and March 2, last year.

Procurator fiscal John Bedford told the court an anonymous letter was received at the Parcelforce depot in Cambuslang, South Lanarkshire, in December 2016.

It claimed Guo used her home in Calton, Glasgow to receive cigarettes by post form China and was not paying any excise duty on them.

On February 13 last year HMRC told Royal Mail Security that any parcels destined for Guo's home should be intercepted.

Mr Bedford added: "On February 14, HMRC officers attended the Royal Mail Depot, Cambuslang where they found five packages, the labelling indicated that each package contained shoes."

"She was not fluent in English and as a result, the employees could not converse with her fully. He did however explain that the parcel she was looking for had been seized by Customs."
Procurator fiscal John Bedford

But when the packages were opened they contained Malboro Gold cigarettes which had a tracking reference on it and were addressed to a Shao Guo.

Days later a further two packages addressed to Gun were intercepted with more cigarettes in them and more paperwork issued to Guo.

A female who identified herself as Shao Guo enquired about a parcel which was to be delivered at her address and gave a council tax letter as evidence, which had Gua's Calton address on it.

Mr Bedford said: "She was not fluent in English and as a result, the employees could not converse with her fully.

"He did however explain that the parcel she was looking for had been seized by Customs.

"She then asked him to write this down in order for her to show her friend."

On February 20, 2017, HMRC officers went to the depot where a further 4,000 Chinese branded cigarettes were found in five packages addressed to the accused.

Two days later her home was searched by HMRC who found a brown box in the kitchen identical do the ones at Royal Mail.

Marlboro cigarettes were found in the kitchen and six packets of Chinese cigarettes.

A red book with figures and numbers was found in a kitchen drawer and had references of Chinese branded cigarettes and a postal references.

Guo was detained and cautioned before she told officers she was sent the cigarettes from China as they were so expensive here, and she gives them to her friends.

During her police interview at London Road Police Office she said people in China send parcels to people in the UK and claimed a friend from China put her in contact with someone.

More cigarettes were intercepted at the depot on March 2.

The total cigarettes recovered with no duty paid is 19,500 made up of 7,380 Marlboro Gold and 12,120 of Chinese brands.

Sheriff Linda Ruxton deferred sentence until next month and ordained Guo to appear.

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