A MAN who tried to smuggle 170,000 cigarettes into the country has been ordered to do community work.

Transporter lorry driver Darious Lukosius, 44, from Lithuania, was stopped by border control officers when he arrived in Purfleet from Boulogne, France in July.

Their suspicions were raised when they encountered drill bits, rivets and a drill gun in his cab, as well as receipts and they soon uncovered the illicit cigarettes stashed in the lorry’s fuel tanks, which had been specially adapted for the crime.

The cigarettes were estimated to be worth around £31,000 in evaded duty and VAT.

Bob Gaiger from HM Revenue and Customs said illicit cigarettes are a “major threat” to people’s health and well being.

He said: “This seizure shows the lengths that smugglers will go to in an attempt to conceal their illegal tobacco products. Smuggled cigarettes are un-regulated and are a major threat to the health and well-being of communities across the country.

“Smugglers are criminals who are only out to make a profit and do not care about the harm that they cause to legitimate retailers.

“We are keen to work closely with local residents and communities in the fight against this type of crime and would encourage anyone who knows of someone selling cheap or duty free cigarettes and tobacco or alcohol to contact us.”

Lukosius pleaded guilty to the fraudulent evasion of excise duty.

He was given a four month jail sentence, suspended for 12 months, when he appeared at Basildon Crown Court on Monday.

In addition he will have to complete 60 hours of community service and wear an electronic tag for 40 days.

A passenger in the lorry was also arrested but was later released without charge.

Anyone with information about people selling cheap or duty free cigarettes is urged to call the customs hotline on 0800 59 5000 or email customs.hotline@hmrc.gsi.gov.uk