A SHOPKEEPER has been hit with a court fine after a Trading Standards raid found a stash of illegal tobacco hidden in a false shower unit.
Mohammed Abdullapoor, 36, of Leigh Road, Leigh pleaded guilty to selling illegal tobacco at Wigan and Leigh Magistrates’ Court, and was fined £570 plus costs of £507.
Wigan Council’s Trading Standards team raided Abdullapoor’s shop, Leigh Road Convenience Store in Leigh Road, in February.
The raid, which used trained sniffer dogs, uncovered a hidden wall disguised as a shower unit at the back of the shop.
The wall, which could only be opened through magnetic locks, contained 7000 illegal cigarettes and 3kg of tobacco. Illegal tobacco is tobacco that has been smuggled, bootlegged or is counterfeit.
Councillor Kevin Anderson, Wigan Council’s cabinet member for environment, said: “We are grateful to members of the Leigh community who gave us the information which enabled us to bring this case to court and achieve the prosecution.
“The lengths this trader went to to hide his illegal stash of cigarettes shows he knew it was wrong and he wanted to keep it hidden from the authorities.
“We rely on members of the public to help us stop illegal tobacco from being available on our streets and prevent criminals profiting from this illicit trade.
“The illegal tobacco trade is a vile trade which makes it easier for children to access cigarettes smoking, takes advantage of cash-strapped families, and helps fund organised crime.”
Anyone who wishes to report illegal sellers to Trading Standards should call 01942 827476 or Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.