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Fake tobacco shops forced to close

Credit: Medway Council

Medway Council has terminated the leases of two shops which were selling illegal tobacco.

The council’s Trading Standards team, along with with Kent Police and the owners of the two businesses forced through the shop closures.

The leaseholders who were running the shops at East Europe Foods and Monika’s Mini Market, both in Gillingham - were terminated.

Police officers working with tobacco sniffer dogs found both shops stocking illegal tobacco.

Despite a previous prosecution in 2014 at East Europe Foods, it was still found to be selling counterfeit and non-duty paid tobacco on return visits.

Officers needed to make return visits as the staff continually changed, with one even thought to have left the country.

The leaseholders of East Europe Foods had constructed false walls, floors and trap doors to hide the products and also hid tobacco within food packaging on the shelves.

Although the shop did have other items allegedly for sale it was clear it been set up just to sell illegal tobacco.

Since August 2015, Trading Standards has seized more than 68,000 illegal cigarettes and 21 kilos of rolling tobacco - the bulk of which came from these two shops.

22,410 cigarettes were found at Monika’s and 18,030 at East Europe Foods.

Credit: Medway Council

The people running these shops have demonstrated they have absolutely no intention of complying with the law.

They avoid paying duty, cheat the system wherever they can and make huge amounts of money off the sale of illegal tobacco.

We are determined to stamp them out and as these cases demonstrate we will continue to drive them out of business.

– Cllr. Andrew Mackness, Medway Council
Credit: Medway Council