Europe Quality Food has been forced to close for three months following a joint investigation by West Mercia Police and Trading Standards.
This comes after a search a warrant was executed on Tuesday, 23 April by Trading Standards and West Mercia Police with assistance from Herefordshire and Worcestershire Fire and Rescue Service.
Once inside the premises, sniffer dogs discovered a bag with 134 packets of illegal cigarettes and 26 pouches of illegal hand rolling tobacco.
A vehicle outside the shop was also searched and found to have 1,761 packets of illegal cigarettes and 254 pouches of illegal hand rolling tobacco.
These tobacco products were seized and the total cost of duty tax evasion on this seizure came to £18,838.60.
Following the warrant, the shop was served an interim closure notice until the full case hearing which happened at Hereford Magistrates Court on Tuesday (7 May).
At the hearing, Europe Quality Food was made subject to a three month closure notice until 11.59pm on 6 August 2019.
A warrant was also executed at this property in January which resulted in the shop owner and an employee, Kaser Othman Mohammed, 39, of Cranemoor Close, Birmingham and Karwan Salh, 19, of Livingstone Road, Handsworth both pleading guilty to charges of sale and possession for sale of illegal and counterfeit tobacco. They were each sentenced to 240 hours of unpaid work and ordered to pay £983 in costs.
Sergeant Duncan Reynolds from West Mercia Police said: “A significant amount of illegal tobacco products was seized from this property which we suspect is likely to be linked to serious and organized crime.
“We hope that this closure notice will send a clear message to those involved in serious and organized crime that we are committed to disrupting and dismantling the criminal behavior of those involved, while demonstrating that we will continue to work closely with our partner agencies to take action against those involved.”
This closure notice comes as West Mercia Police continues to crack down on serious and organized crime as part of its Protect campaign.
The Protect campaign sees police work closely with partners to tackle serious and organized crime and the harm it causes. The broad-ranging campaign comprises four key areas of activity:
Pursue – prosecuting and disrupting those involved in SOC
Prevent – stopping individuals from becoming involved in SOC
Protect – increased levels of protection against SOC
Prepare – reducing the impact of SOC where it occurs
Please visit https://www.westmercia.police.uk/protect to find out more and follow #Protect on social media.
If you have concerns about serious and organized crime or the sale of illegal/counterfeit tobacco products, you can report it by calling 101. Alternatively, information can be provided anonymously to the independent charity Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111. Always call 999 in an emergency.