Supermarket sweep: 20k counterfeit cigarettes taken off market after Council action

  • Friday 14 June 2024

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Image of dozens of cigarette boxes stored in a clear plastic evidence bag.

Tens of thousands of counterfeit cigarettes were seized following a swoop by Manchester City Council Trading Standards at an east Manchester business.

In January 2023, officers inspected Gorton Supermarket & Gorton Butcher Ltd, in Wellington Street, following intelligence that illicit tobacco was being sold on the premises. 

Alongside a tobacco detection dog officers discovered a huge number of illegal products which were subsequently seized.

In total officers found 20,478 cigarettes and 3.6kg of hand rolling tobacco. 

Items were hidden throughout the shop including inside boxes as well as plastic bags. 

Other items confiscated included a 500g tub of skin-whitening cream which contained a banned ingredient, as well as three counterfeit designer fragrances. 

Brand representatives provided witness evidence confirming the tobacco items and fragrances were fake, and that the cream was not permitted to be sold.

On Thursday, June 13, 2024, the company’s director Ahmed Rashid, 43, of Rostherne Avenue, Old Trafford, attended Manchester Magistrates’ Court pleading guilty to 13 offences relating to Trademarks and tobacco on behalf of the company, and to four tobacco offences as a director. 

Magistrates ordered the company to pay a fine of £10,000, a victim surcharge of £2,000 and court costs of £1,867. 

Rashid was also sentenced to 100 hours of community service, as well as being ordered to pay a victim surcharge of £114.   

Councillor Lee-Ann Igbon, Executive Member for Vibrant Neighbourhoods said: “The scale of this prosecution shows how important our work is when it comes to cracking down in illicit tobacco. This isn’t a few packets here or there, we are talking about thousands of products on sale, harming our communities. 

“Illicit tobacco is a serious issue. Its sale creates a barrier to people trying to quit the habit, as well as making it easier for younger people to start smoking. As well as being illegal it is a serious public health concern, which is why actions like these are so important. 

“We hope the size of this fine sends a clear message that we will not tolerate the continued sale of these products, and that criminals who supply them will ultimately pay the price.” 

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