Two people are on the run after being sentenced for running an illegal cigarettes racket in south London.

Al Gui He, Ya Ming He and Shou Chen have received jail terms totalling more than 10 years after an investigation by HM Revenue & Customs.

Some 116,200 counterfeit cigarettes were found hidden in boxes along with 96kg of hand-rolling tobacco in lock-ups in Charlton, Bermondsey, New Cross, Eltham and Beckenham.

The trio evaded £475,000 in unpaid excise duty.

Gui He, 38, from Charlton, Ming He, 44, from Greenwich, and Chen, 48, address unknown, were caught out when Border Force officers at Heathrow Airport found hidden tobacco that had arrived from China.

Cigarettes had been smuggled into the UK among fish pumps, while tobacco was concealed in concealed in restaurant table tops.

The trio were arrested as they turned up for a delivery of illicit tobacco at a storage unit in New Cross.

Chen fled before the trial started while his right-hand man Gui He disappeared once the jury started considering its verdict.

They were found guilty of fraud charges and sentenced in their absence to five and four years in jail respectively. Ming He was sentenced to 16 months in prison.

Simon Kiefer, assistant director, fraud investigation service at HMRC, said: “Chen and Gui He dodged paying tax and are now trying to avoid justice by going on the run.

"We need the help of the public to track them down so they can begin their prison sentence.

"These criminals created an uneven playing field for legitimate businesses and put a burden on the honest majority.

"HMRC will continue to crack down on those involved in the sale, smuggling or distribution of illicit tobacco which is stealing from the public."

Sentencing the trio at Woolwich Crown Court, Judge David Miller said: “This was a highly sophisticated enterprise involving concealment of tobacco in furniture via freight importations and cigarettes via parcels from China.

“The large quantity of counterfeit cigarettes onto the UK market amounted to a significant risk to public health.”

If you know the whereabouts of Chen and Gui He, or of anyone committing tobacco fraud, report it to HMRC online or by calling the Fraud Hotline on 0800 788 887.