Two shop workers have appeared in court after a sniffer dog helped Trading Standards officers discover illegal cigarettes and tobacco.
Saman Sabir, aged 35 of Lydgate Court, Nuneaton, and Neaz Salah, aged 33 of Roman Road, Coventry, appeared before city magistrates.
The court heard they worked for Moris Eastern European Mini Supermarket of Caludon Road, Coventry, which was visited by an undercover officer in October last year, who managed to buy a packet of illicit Minsk Slims for £2.50. Following this, officers visited the shop and found 521 packets of illegal tobacco products hidden under the counter and in the store room.
The following month, officers returned with a specially trained sniffer dog and discovered tobacco products hidden in the tiled wall of the sink area of the store room. An electro magnet controlled a door and when forced open a total of 358 packets of illegal cigarettes and 19 pouches of hand rolling tobacco were found and seized.
The pair yesterday (17 May) pleaded guilty to offences under the Trade Marks Act 1994, the Tobacco and Related Products Regulations 2016 and Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations 2008.
Sabir was ordered to pay £480 and Salah £275; both amounts included costs and a victim surcharge. An arrest warrant was issued for the owner at the time of the seizure who failed to attend court.
Allan Harwood, Coventry City Council’s Trading Standards and Consumer Protection Manager, said: “Our Trading Standards Team responded to intelligence and successfully disrupted the supply of potentially dangerous tobacco and cigarettes in the city. This case showed the lengths that some retailers will go to in trying to hide illicit tobacco.
“The tobacco found was part of a series of visits targeting premises supplying illegal and fake tobacco products and further cases are in the pipeline.
“This work is part of our ongoing operation to tackle this illegal trade which, if it goes unchecked, will undermine the Government's initiative to stop people and especially children from smoking because it is sold at pocket money prices by criminals who are not interested in asking for proof of age.”
To report the selling of illegal tobacco call trading standards on 03454 040506 or e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org