Walsall trader tried hiding illegal cigarettes under shop counter to avoid inspectors

The director of a former Walsall shop where more than 6,000 illegal cigarettes and over 1kg of hand-rolling tobacco was found has been fined £120.

The stash of tobacco was discovered at APO Pleck supermarket
The stash of tobacco was discovered at APO Pleck supermarket

The stash of tobacco was discovered at APO Pleck supermarket Ltd, Wednesbury Road, Walsall, back in August 2018 when officers visited the shop to undertake a routine advisory visit.

Ramen Amini appeared before Walsall Magistrates Court this week and pleaded guilty to all 12 counts.

He has been fined £120 and ordered to pay a victim surcharge of £34, as well as a contribution to legal costs of £500.

Trading standards officers witnessed Mr Amini throwing items under the counter when they entered the shop. Investigations found they were packets of illegal tobacco.

A further search of the premises revealed a box and black bin liner containing large quantities of cigarettes and hand-rolling tobacco.

The haul included a mixture of counterfeit, non-duty paid or illicit cheap white cigarettes.

They were incorrectly packaged and did not carry the correct UK health warnings - often an indication that items are not genuine.

The shop did also sell genuine tobacco however Mr Amini admitted that the price he’d paid for the illegal ones, from a man selling them door to door, was much less than genuine products.

Councillor Garry Perry, Walsall Council's deputy leader for resilient communities said: “This investigation clearly demonstrates the persistence and continued efforts our trading standards team in partnership with West Midlands Police go to to investigate and bring to justice the perpetrators involved in illegal trade.

“The illegal tobacco trade is often led by organised crime groups and therefore this haul has meant that illicit items are taken out of circulation resulting in a real impact on the wider illegal trade network.

“Money from the sale of such products often goes back into the organised crime network and funds further criminality such as the drug industry, people trafficking and gun crime.

“This makes it even more important that we are all vigilant and report any concerns about the genuine nature of products that we purchase to stop this taking place in our borough.”

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