In just one day in the run-up to Christmas, we have secured convictions against five defendants in three separate court cases.
Mr Jose Ochoa and Mr Wissam Salhab and Tyours Ltd each pleaded guilty to all three charges. The company was fined £750 with costs of £790, a victim surcharge of £75 and a court charge of £150. Each other defendant was fined £500 with costs of £250, a victim surcharge of £50 and a court charge of £150.
Mr Mukhtar Ahmed pleaded guilty to two charges. He was fined £500 with costs of £750, a victim surcharge of £25 and a court charge of £150.
Mr Mihai Lupes and Bacovia Ltd pleaded guilty to two charges, after they were found with illegal cigarettes in two different locations on separate days. Their company was fined £900, with costs of £1000, a victim surcharge of £85 and a court charge of £150. Mr Lupes was also fined £650 with costs of £236, a victim surcharge of £60 and a court charge of £150.
In each separate case we launched prosecutions after carrying out snap inspections at a range of shops, sometimes following anonymous tip offs. Cigarettes, rolling tobacco and shisha tobacco products were seized and will later be destroyed after being found to not carry the required health English warnings, nor paying proper UK taxes.
Cllr James Denselow, Brent Council's cabinet member responsible for trading standards, said:
"I don't know who these rogue traders think they're kidding. Selling on smuggled tobacco products for knock-down prices is going to get you caught, convicted and heavily fined. Week after week we're catching these people, and the courts are handing down fines - it's about time they wised up and realised that we're not going to let them get away with endangering the health of local people like this, not to mention cheating taxes. We're naming and shaming the shops and the individuals so as to encourage others not to follow suit."
Anu Prashar, Brent's Senior Prosecutor added
"We know exactly how this works, we know exactly what to look for, and we know exactly how to secure convictions. We've got more suspects in our sights for the new year. If you do suspect any sellers of illegal cigarettes, please report them to the Citizens Advice consumer helpline on 03454 04 05 06"