A Sutton labourer who had almost two million illicit cigarettes stashed in a storage unit has been jailed after he was caught by police in Liverpool.

Aleksandrs Afonkins, of Whittaker Road, was found with 1,972,548 cigarettes – worth nearly £530,000 in lost duty and taxes that were illicit – as well as £2,390 in cash within his pocket.

Merseyside Police officers were alerted to a possible break-in at a storage unit in Bootle and, upon arrival, found the 50-year-old inside the premises.

Afonkins was found guilty of dealing goods with fraudulent intent and possession of criminal property following a trial at Liverpool Crown Court on April 27 before being sentenced on the same day.

He was jailed for two-and-a-half years following an investigation by the Government’s HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC).

The labourer was also given six months for possessing criminal property in relation to the nearly £2,400 in his pocket, which will run concurrently.