Mr Arayan Anwar Abdullah was successfully prosecuted after a joint investigation between BCP Council’s Trading Standards Service and Caerphilly Trading Standards Service.
The Defendant pled guilty to charges under the Trademarks Act 1994 and the General Product Safety Regulations 2005. He received a two-year suspended sentence; must carry out 100 hours of unpaid work; and pay a £100 victim surcharge.
The premises had a previous history of selling illegal tobacco and the previous owner of the business was jailed in November 2018 for similar offences.
On the 18th of December 2018, Trading Standards Officers visited the premises, accompanied by police, and witnessed the sale of tobacco to a fifteen-year-old girl. The officers then went into the premises and found a large quantity of tobacco and cigarettes hidden in the rear storeroom. These items were seized, and samples of the illicit cigarettes and tobacco were examined by the relevant brand holders (or their representatives). These samples were found to either have foreign labels, to not be displaying the correct warnings, and/or were found to be counterfeit.
Sample were also examined by a safety analyst and found to be unsafe, as they failed to extinguish when left, posing a fire hazard.
On the 12th of April 2019, a Trading Standards Officer visited the premises again, and was sold a counterfeit packet of Mayfair cigarettes.
Whilst the BCP investigation was being processed through the courts, Mr Abdullah was stopped in Wales on the 17th February 2021 and was found to be in possession of 204, 820 illegal cigarettes. Caerphilly County Borough Council Trading Standards carried out an investigation and these offences were added to the BCP case.
The sale of illegal tobacco harms local businesses, and it is estimated that, for every 50g of tobacco illegally sold, approximately £13 is lost to the treasury, which has a massive impact on things like NHS funding.
The illegal tobacco trade brings crime into our communities, as it is often part of organised criminal activity and is linked to a range of other illegal trades, including people-trafficking, drug-smuggling, exploitation, and money laundering.
It is hoped that this prosecution will serve as a warning – to others who are selling illegal cigarettes and tobacco – that action will be taken against them.
If you have any information about the sale of illegal tobacco you can contact Crimestoppers (anonymously) on 0800 555 111 or report it online at www.crimestoppers-uk.org.
You can also report it to us via the South-West Illegal Tobacco page: Report it (swillegaltobacco.info)