THE Foreign Office is urging expats to unmask tobacco smugglers and tax dodgers following the jailing of a British fugitive extradited from Spain.
A dedicated customs hotline has been set up for anyone with information and those coming forward can remain anonymous.
The crackdown follows the jailing of Malcolm McGowan, 61, who was arrested in a Valencia swimming pool last month after 12 years on the run.
McGowan fled the UK after being found guilty of smuggling 28.3 million cigarettes into the country in 2001. His crime robbed the UK taxpayer of £4 million.
He was part of a wider conspiracy involving 10 men to smuggle around 56 million cigarettes into the UK between November 1999 and March 2000, at a cost of £8.2 million to the authorities.
Customs officers are also looking for information about drugs, firearms, obscene material and endangered species, and tax frauds including betting and gaming, money laundering and the carousel VAT scam in Europe.
Adrian Farley, assistant director of criminal investigatrion for HMRC, said: “Smugglers and fraudsters cheat the rest of us by not contributing the tax that pays for schools, hospitals and public services.
“People in the British expatriate community can help us find them.”
The hotline number is 900 988 922.
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