Ruff justice - sniffer dog helps detect haul of 6,000 illicit cigarettes

  • Wednesday 5 June 2024

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A brown and white dog detection dog called Dixie, looking up at the camera.

A businessman has found himself in court following a Trading Standards raid which saw more than 6,000 counterfeit cigarettes seized. 

On November 18, 2021, Trading Standards officers from Manchester City Council conducted a search of B&A Corner Shop, in Cicero Street, Harpurhey. 

Following a complaint, officers were searching for illicit tobacco that was allegedly being sold from the premises. With the assistance of a tobacco detection dog – Dixie – and her handler from Wagtail UK thousands of cigarettes and a quantity of hand rolling tobacco was found hidden throughout the shop. 

After searching behind shelving units and in a back storeroom, a total of 6,020 cigarettes and 750g of hand rolling tobacco was seized. After being sent away for testing it was determined the items were either counterfeit, or destined for European markets and not intended for sale in the UK. 

Appearing before Tameside Magistrates’ Court on Monday, 3 June 2024, the defendant, Hashmat Ullah-Mohammadzey, 33, of Cicero Street, Manchester, pleaded guilty to a string of offences relating to the Trade Marks Act, Tobacco Regulations and Standardised Packaging Regulations. 

In mitigation he claimed he was uneducated and was told to hide the tobacco in the store to prevent it being stolen. 

He was sentenced to pay a fine of £750, ordered to pay a victim surcharge of £75 and court costs of £1,499. 

A forfeiture order was granted for the seized products. 

Councillor Lee-Ann Igbon, Executive Member for Vibrant Neighbourhoods said: “This is a positive outcome and I am grateful for the hard work and dedication shown by our Trading Standards Officers and Legal Team. 

“Pleading ignorance is no excuse when it comes to selling illicit tobacco and we will always work to ensure that offenders are punished for breaking the law. 

“Illicit tobacco causes real and lasting harm to our communities, and we are committed to stubbing out its future sale.” 

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