Sniffer dogs help uncover thousands of illegal tobacco products in three-day blitz

This post first appeared on Nottingham Post. Read the original article.

Specially-trained dogs have managed to sniff out thousands of stashed illegal tobacco products in a three-day operation across the city.

Sniffer dogs Yoyo, Scampi, and Binnie helped trading standards officers uncover around 3,000 packets of fake tobacco in a major clampdown in the Radford Road area this weekend (Sep 8-10).

It comes as Nottingham City Council this week evicted two tenants from council houses in Radford Road after illegal tobacco products worth more than £100,000 were found in their homes.

Sniffer dog Yoyo found illegal tobacco hidden under a kitchen sink in one Nottingham shop as part of the three day operation.

Sniffer dog Yoyo found illegal tobacco hidden under a kitchen sink in one Nottingham shop as part of the three day operation.

The council wants to send out a strong message to those involved in the sale of illegal tobacco.

Radford Road special constables assisted in the execution of search warrants at a number of addresses over the three-day operation, working alongside trading standards and the local police beat team.

In one Nottingham shop, which has not been named, sniffer dog Yoyo found a large stash of illegal tobacco hidden under a kitchen sink.

Councillor Toby Neal, portfolio holder for community and customer services at Nottingham City Council, said: "Our trading standards officers conducted a three-day operation to try to tackle the supply of illegal tobacco products within the city.

"Alongside our partners, Nottinghamshire Police and our tobacco dogs, they conducted inspections at shops throughout the city and found around 3,000 packets of illegal tobacco.

"Cash has also been seized as evidence of the proceeds of this crime. Enquiries are ongoing. We will continue to take action against anyone selling illegal products, which presents even greater health risks than ordinary tobacco."

Sniffer dog Yoyo found illegal tobacco hidden under a kitchen sink.

Sniffer dog Yoyo found illegal tobacco hidden under a kitchen sink.

Illegal tobacco is smuggled, bootlegged or counterfeit, sold cheaply and tax-free and often linked to large-scale organised crime.

Nottingham City Council’s anti-social behaviour team working in partnership with Nottingham City Homes has secured the two evictions, which are not linked, although they both lived in two separate flats in the high rise at the Woodlands in Radford.

Nawzad Salih, 32, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to supply unsafe items, conspiracy to possess counterfeit items, and conspiracy to evade tax in December last year.

The council said cardboard boxes and nylon bags in his flat contained large quantities of illegal cigarettes and hand rolling tobacco on which duty had not been paid.

In total 3,743 packets of illegal cigarettes with a retail value of £35,933 were found, plus 260 packets of hand rolling tobacco with a retail value of £4,714, making a total retail value in excess of £40,000.

Mr Salih is due to be sentenced at Nottingham Crown Court next month.

He was evicted from his home earlier this month.

Bahman Karimi, 27, pleaded guilty to and was convicted of the sale of tobacco to a young person under the age of 18, and of seven breaches of Regulation 14 of the Tobacco Products (Manufacture, Presentation and Sale) (Safety) Regulations 2002.

He was sentenced in August to 12 weeks imprisonment (suspended for 24 months), 200 hours’ unpaid work, and was ordered to pay £781 costs.

In total, 6,775 packets of illegal cigarettes were found at Karimi’s flat, with a retail value of £60,975, £1,500 in cash was also seized by investigating officers and retained under the Proceeds of Crime Act.

He was evicted from his home last month.

Councillor Neal added: “Our trading standards team work hard to prevent the sale and distribution of illegal tobacco in and around the city.

"We want to send a clear message to people. If you sell illegal products, chances are you will be caught and you could face serious penalties through the courts

"Illegal tobacco trade harms everyone. All tobacco is harmful, but when it is cheap and easily to get hold of, it makes it harder for people to quit and more accessible to children and young people."

Gill Moy, director of housing and customer services at Nottingham City Homes, added: "We have a zero tolerance policy on criminal activity in any of our properties.

"The sale of illegal cigarettes is no exception. In this case, strong partnership working with Nottingham City Council’s Community Protection team has enabled us to evict both tenants".