Lincolnshire Trading Standards has secured prosecutions against two men after illegal cigarettes and tobacco were seized from a shop on Fydell Street in the town.
After a test purchase on 3 June 2020 revealed illegal cigarettes were being sold from the Europa shop in Boston, officers from Lincolnshire Trading Standards and Lincolnshire Police raided the premises on 12 June and seized the illegal tobacco products.
A second test purchase and raid took place in March 2021. In total 17,140 counterfeit and illicit cigarettes and 650g of hand-rolling tobacco were seized from the premises.
On both occasions, 22-year-old Ahmed Mahmood of Argyll Street, Boston, had sold the illegal products and was present during the raids.
Sometime between the raids in June 2020 and March 2021, Dana Omer, 41, of Searjeant Street, Peterborough became the owner of the business. At Boston Magistrates Court on 20 December 2021, Omer plead guilty to four offences for his involvement in the illegal tobacco trading, and was fined £484, a £300 cost contribution, and a £48 victim surcharge – a total of £832.
Ahmed Mahmood initially pleaded guilty to the 11 offences against him. But at court on 17 January 2022 he suddenly seemed to say that he did not know that the goods were counterfeit and that he was confused about the offences.
The court were unconvinced by his changing tune, and for his involvement Mahmood was handed 120 hours of unpaid work, and ordered to pay a £350 cost contribution and £95 victim surcharge.
Lincolnshire Trading Standards officer, Anna Chapman, said: “Omer and Mahmood were completely brazen in their offending; when the shop was raided, the illegal tobacco products were found simply piled up in an open suitcase in the back of the shop. They knew what they were doing was wrong but continued to peddle their illicit wares, even after the shop was first raided.
“These products are dangerous for consumers; you don’t know what is in them, and they often won’t self-extinguish making them a huge fire risk. We’ve also seen how the trade in illicit tobacco attracts other crime and anti-social behaviour to an area, further damaging our communities.
“Help us stub out illicit tobacco in Lincolnshire. If you know anything about illegal tobacco products being sold in our area, let us know.”
If you any information, you can call Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111 or report online at crimestoppers-uk.org.