A cigarette smuggler has been ordered to repay his profits or face extra time in jail.

Michael Pitt, now 48, organised a ring which made £545,000 by buying duty free cigarettes from airside shops at Gatwick and other airports and selling them on the black market.

The scam involved going through passport control on fake boarding passes or one-way tickets, visiting duty free shops, then coming back through arrivals without travelling.

It ran for 15 months between February 2009 and May 2010.

Pitt, from Islington, London, was jailed for five years in 2011.

Seven other gang members, from London, Essex and Manchester, were all convicted in 2011.

He was brought back to Brighton Crown Court this month for a Proceeds of Crime Act hearing.

'Pure greed'

Judge Paul Tain ruled he should repay £36,840 within six months, or face another 14 months in jail.

Robert Alder, of Revenue and Customs (HMRC), said: “Pitt’s motivation was pure greed.

“HMRC’s motivation was not only to investigate Pitt, so that he could be brought to justice, but also to relieve him of the proceeds of his crime.

“He now faces a further 14 months in prison if he does not pay his dues – and still owe the money.

“Today’s result serves as a warning that we will tirelessly pursue those who have benefitted from criminality.”

Anyone with information about tobacco or cigarette smuggling can call the Customs Hotline on 0800 595000, or email to customs.hotline@hmrc.gsi.gov.uk.

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