Prosecutions against two men have been secured after Lincolnshire Trading Standards seized more than 17,000 illicit cigarettes from a shop in Boston.
Officers from Lincolnshire Trading Standards and Lincolnshire Police raided the Europa shop on Fydell Street in Boston on June 12, 2020, nine days after a test purchase revealed illegal cigarettes were being sold there.
A second test purchase and raid then took place in March 2021, with a total of 17,140 counterfeit cigarettes and 650g of hand-rolling tobacco seized from the premises.
On both occasions, Ahmed Mahmood, 22, of Argyll Street, Boston, had sold the products and was present during the raids.
At some stage between the raids in June 2020 and March 2021, 41-year-old Dana Omer, of Searjent Street, Peterborough, became the owner of the business.
At Boston Magistrates’ Court on December 20, 2021, Omer pleaded guilty to four offences for his involvement in the sale of illegal tobacco, and was fined £484.
He was also ordered to pay a £48 victim surcharge and cover £300 of legal costs, totalling £832 altogether.
Ahmed Mahmood initially pleaded guilty to 11 offences against his name, but at a court hearing on January 17, 2022, he seemed to change his story and said he didn’t know the goods were counterfeit.
The court was unconvinced by his arguments, and he was given 120 hours of unpaid work, as well as being ordered to pay £350 cost contribution and a £95 victim surcharge.
Lincolnshire Trading Standards officer, Anna Chapman, said: “Omer and Mahmood were completely brazen in their offending; when the shop was raided, the illegal tobacco products were found simply piled up in an open suitcase in the back of the shop. They knew what they were doing was wrong but continued to peddle their illicit wares, even after the shop was first raided.
“These products are dangerous for consumers; you don’t know what is in them, and they often won’t self-extinguish making them a huge fire risk. We’ve also seen how the trade in illicit tobacco attracts other crime and anti-social behaviour to an area, further damaging our communities.
“Help us stub out illicit tobacco in Lincolnshire. If you know anything about illegal tobacco products being sold in our area, let us know.”