Store owner caught with 6,000 illegal cigarettes after trying to ‘hide a hiding place under the counter’


A former supermarket that was caught throwing away more than 6,000 illegal cigarettes has been brought to justice after a “cat-and-mouse game” ended with it landing in court.

Ramen Amini was caught by trade standards officers who had come to search the supermarket for illegal goods.

Government agency investigators saw Amini hiding the cigarettes and 1kg of roll-your-own tobacco under her store counter as they entered the APO Pleck Ltd. supermarket.

Amini – who was the store manager – admitted 12 counts under the Trademark Act when he appeared in court.

The judge had issued two arrest warrants for him after he failed to appear in court, but he was ultimately sentenced this month.

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Amini’s collection included a mix of cheap counterfeit, unpaid or illicit white cigarettes

He was fined £ 120, ordered to pay a victim fine surcharge of £ 34 and costs of £ 500.

The tobacco stash was discovered in August 2018 when officers visited the Walsall store for a routine advisory visit.

The transport included a mix of cheap counterfeit, unpaid or illicit white cigarettes, according to Birmingham Live.

They were poorly packaged and did not carry the correct UK health warnings – often a sign that the items are not genuine, the council said.

A box and a black garbage bag containing large quantities of cigarettes and roll-your-own tobacco were also found.

The store was selling real tobacco, but Amini confessed that he paid “much less” than he should have after buying them from a door-to-door vendor.

Councilor Garry Perry, Deputy Leader of Resilient Communities, said: “This investigation clearly demonstrates the persistence and continued efforts of our Trade Standards team in partnership with West Midlands Police to investigate and bring to justice the perpetrators involved in the illegal trade.

“The illegal tobacco trade is often run by organized criminal groups and therefore this transport has meant that illicit items are taken out of circulation, which has a real impact on the wider illegal trade network.

“The money from the sale of these products often goes back into the organized crime network and funds other crimes such as the drug industry, human trafficking and gun crime.

“This makes it even more important that we are all vigilant and report any concerns about the genuine nature of the products we buy to prevent this from happening in our borough. “

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