6th November 2023

Illicit tobacco couple plead guilty

A husband and wife from Oxfordshire sold tens of thousands of pounds worth of illicit tobacco on Facebook.

By JTS Staff
Journal of Trading Standards' in-house team

A husband and wife who sold illegal cigarettes and tobacco via Facebook have entered guilty pleas in a prosecution brought by Oxfordshire County Council Trading Standards.

When the Banbury home of Krzysztof Bugno (42) and Ewelina Bugno (41) was raided in October 2021, Officers seized more than 44,000 illicit cigarettes and 24.5kg of hand-rolling tobacco with a street value of £20,000 — the largest amount ever seized by Oxfordshire Trading Standards at the time.

The couple’s activities had come to the attention of Trading Standards in August 2021, when an undercover Officer bought 10 packets of L&M cigarettes for £60 after responding to an advert posted on Facebook. The Officer was directed to the Bugnos’ home address where Ewelina Bugno was recorded making the sale on covert camera .

Some of the illicit tobacco seized (image credit: Oxfordshire County Council)

A further 10 packets were purchased from Krzysztof Bugno in October 2021, resulting in a search of the property which revealed illicit tobacco stored in the lounge, master bedroom and loft.

Mobile phones were also seized which experts from the National Trading Standards E-crime Unit found to contain substantial evidence of illegal trading between June 2019 and October 2021. The prosecution alleged that at least £40,000 in duty was evaded during this period.

Jody Kerman, Oxfordshire County Council’s Head of Trading Standards, said: “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.”

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.”

On 3 November at Oxford Magistrates’ Court the couple pleaded guilty to eight charges, including being knowingly concerned in the fraudulent evasion of duty. They are due to be sentenced on 30 November.

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