May 31, 2022 1.51 pm

Two Boston shops forced to close after criminal activity

Police say shops used only to sell dangerous illegal cigarettes and vapes

Two shops in Boston described as causing ‘a serious nuisance to members of the public’ have been ordered to close immediately for three months (the maximum permitted term) after criminal activity was uncovered at both premises.

Lincoln Magistrates Court issued closure orders to Bucharest on West Street and King Power on Horncastle Road on Monday, May 30 after a request from Lincolnshire Trading Standards.

The shops were two of five in Boston targeted by Lincolnshire Trading Standards and Lincolnshire Police’s licensing team in a crackdown against the sale of illegal cigarettes and alcohol.

Tens of thousands of illegal cigarettes, illegal vapes, and thousands of pounds in cash were seized by officers in raids over the past two weeks.

Officers also found employees in the shops with no right to work in the UK, who were referred to Immigration Services.

In all five inspected premises, the owners had taken extensive measures to hide their illegal products from officers, including false walls, ceilings and floors, hydraulic lifts, and electrically operated magnetic locks.

In one case, chilli powder was even used around the products in an attempt to distract detection dogs.

The King Power shop on Horncastle Road was previously the location of a shocking video which showed illegal cigarettes stashed behind a ceiling light.

Lincolnshire Trading Standards are now pursuing orders against the other three premises and will fully investigate all criminal offences.

The raids come just weeks after Lincolnshire Trading Standards launched Operation June – a campaign to tackle illicit tobacco sales in memory of June Buffham, who sadly died in a house fire caused by an illegal cigarette.

Cigarettes found in the shops during these raids were a mix of counterfeit, unsafe, and non-duty paid.

Vapes seized during the raids were found to be far in excess of the legal nicotine strength and well above the permitted size. One such vape contained the same nicotine content as 450 standard king size cigarettes.

Andy Wright, Principal Trading Standards Officer, said: “Make no mistake, these are not shops who trade a few dodgy fags on the side.

“These shops function for the primary purpose of selling illegal cigarettes and vapes.

“We have been contacted by a number of legitimate businesses in the area who have found that they cannot compete on equal terms.

“It is unfortunate that in some cases they have been put out of business. We do what we can to provide a level playing field for legitimate business.”