1. ITV Report

750,000 cigarettes seized in Wales' biggest Trading Standards bust

A Newport shopkeeper, who used a baby monitor and chute to deliver illegal cigarettes on demand to his customers, has today been sentenced, along with three other men, for participation in a fraudulent business.

It's believed to be one of the biggest Trading Standards investigations of its type in Wales.

Police seized 750,000 cigarettes and over 300kg of hand rolling tobacco. Credit: Newport City Council

Tahar Mohammed, 38, and shopkeeper Feryad Mohammed Abdul- Kadir, 33 admitted handling and selling more than £427,000 worth of smuggled and counterfeit tobacco.

Two other men, who worked in the shop on Commercial Road in Pill, were also sentenced for their part in the fraud

The gang used a baby monitor and chute to deliver cigarettes on demand to customers. Credit: Newport City Council

During the investigation, Trading Standards and Police seized nearly three quarters of a million cigarettes and over 300kg of hand rolling tobacco, with an estimated duty and tax evaded of £300,000.

They also searched the flat above the Newport shop, and discovered a chute under the floorboards leading directly into the shop’s stockroom.

The chute was disguised behind a false wall.

A baby monitor, found next to the chute, was used to communicate with colleagues in the shop who were selling the tobacco to customers.

Credit: Newport City Council

This prosecution is a real achievement for all those involved and sends out a very clear message to anyone who thinks they can profit from the sale of counterfeit goods.

Counterfeit cigarettes and tobacco can be even more harmful than the genuine products – they are not monitored for safety and can contain all manner of ingredients.

Those with foreign labelling do not comply with safety regulations and do not provide the consumer with the essential information to make an informed choice.

– Councillor Bob Poole, Newport City Council

This gang thought they had a foolproof way of hiding their activity and could profit from selling illegal tobacco, but they are now paying the price for their actions with criminal records and prison sentences.

Tobacco smuggling robs communities of vital public funds and harms the livelihood of legitimate retailers.

Disrupting this criminal trade is at the heart of our strategy to clampdown on the illicit tobacco market, which costs the UK around £2 billion a year.

– John Cooper, Fraud Investigation Service, HMRC