Illegal cigarettes worth £6,000 found at West Bromwich shop

By George Makin | West Bromwich | News | Published:

A West Bromwich shop with a history of selling illegal tobacco has had its alcohol licence revoked after councillors heard it was involved in "systematic criminal activity".

Gud Prajs, on Great Bridge Street, West Bromwich

Thousands of cigarettes with a legal retail value of £6,000 were found at the Gud Prajs store on Great Bridge Street during a raid by Sandwell Council Trading Standards officers.

Members of the licensing committee made their decision in the absence of permit holder Barzan Shekade, who failed to appear before councillors.

Mr Shekade was granted the store’s licence in July last year.

Councillors heard the shop was searched in January after earlier test purchases found illegal cigarettes were being sold across the counter.

That raid found more than 500 packets of cigarettes and rolling tobacco.

Trading officers also said that following their search, Mr Shekade had applied for another shop licence where undercover officers were again able to buy smuggled goods. That application was later witdrawn.

Giving their reasons for their decision, councillors said: “The committee had to decide whether this was an example of extremely poor management or alternatively illustrated organised crime.

“The fact that the licenced premises holder applied for licence for a Smethwick mini-market where subsequent test purchases were carried out which resulted in the withdrawal of the application and in addition, the current premises are subject to on-going criminal proceedings in relation to instances from 2016 until mid July 2017 – whilst there was a different management – the committee concluded that these facts evidenced not poor management but systematic criminal activity related to smuggled tobacco.

“Given the scale and value of the tobacco and the history of the premises and the guidance which recommends a robust approach to crimes committed on licensed premises, the committee has resolved to revoke the licence.”

The store now has 28 days to appeal the decision.

George Makin

By George Makin

Local Democracy Reporter covering Sandwell and Dudley.

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