Three Midland members of an international criminal gang who smuggled 11 million cigarettes into the UK to fund lavish lifestyles are now behind bars.

The trio cheated Revenue and Customs out of £1.7 million in duty and laundered the proceeds of their criminal enterprise, Northampton Crown Court heard.

Assets already seized include a motor yacht, homes in the West Midlands and Spain, an E-type Jag, a Norton Commando motorbike and expensive designer jewellery.

Donald Southall, Robert Horton and his girlfriend Julie Henworth were all caught after a Revenue and Customs operation which took in six European countries.

Southall, 55, of Gospel End Road, Sedgley, and Robert Horton, 43, of Church Road, Norton Canes, Cannock, both pleaded guilty to tobacco smuggling.

They were each jailed for four years and eight months with charges of money laundering to lie on file for perpetuity.

Julie Henworth, 42, of Church Road, Norton Canes, Cannock, pleaded guilty to money laundering and was sentenced to two years. Charges of tobacco smuggling will lie on file for ever.

Adrian Farley, assistant director of criminal investigation for Revenue and Customs, said the case was very large scale.

He said it took investigators to Hungary, Portugal, Spain, Slovakia, Austria and France and spanned two years and involved seizing computers and bank accounts.

He said Horton controlled the European end of the operation from his base in Hungary, meeting suppliers and arranging the transportation by lorry.

Meanwhile, Mr Farley said, Southall operated the UK side of the enterprise, overseeing the arrival and distribution of the cigarettes.

Henworth acted as an administrator and “travel agent”, arranging and paying for flights for her criminal co-conspirators.

Mr Farley said confiscation proceedings to reclaim the criminal proceedings had begun.