Three smugglers from the Black Country who cheated the taxman out of £1.7 million as they brought 11 million illicit cigarettes into Britain have been jailed.
Donald Southall, Robert Horton and Julie Henworth played key roles in a lucrative crime syndicate that spanned Europe.
Undercover investigators discovered they oversaw the wholesale importation of cigarettes from eastern Europe without notifying customs.
They used the profits to buy properties in Britain and Spain, a yacht, an E-type Jaguar, a vintage motorcycle and designer jewellery.
The trio were jailed at Northampton Crown Court, a spokeswoman for HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) said.
Southall, 55, of Sedgley, near Dudley, and Horton, 43, of Norton Canes, Cannock, were each jailed for four years and eight months after admitting tobacco smuggling. Horton's girlfriend Henworth, 42, also of Norton Canes, was jailed for two years after she admitted money laundering.
Southall and Henworth were arrested in March 2007 in a series of raids marking the end of a two-year inquiry. Horton, who went on the run in Europe, was held in May 2008 after he surrendered to UK authorities.
Officials said Horton controlled the European end of the operation, meeting suppliers and arranging lorry transport from a base in Hungary. Southall ran the British side, overseeing the arrival and distribution of cigarettes.
Henworth worked as an administrator and travel agent, arranging and paying for flights for numerous secretive meetings.
Adrian Farley, of HMRC, said: "This was a large scale international tobacco smuggling plot which took our investigations all over Europe. With the support of law enforcement colleagues in Hungary, Portugal, Spain, Slovakia, Austria and France, we have broken up this gang and are now working to take away the proceeds of their crime."