A shop owner has been jailed for selling an estimated £200,000 worth of illegal and counterfeit cigarettes and tobacco at a convenience store in Wolverhampton.
Zemnako Azad Salih, former director of Sam Euro Style Ltd, received a custodial sentence of 28 months and was banned for being a director for five years on January 15.
Wolverhampton Council Trading Standards officers inspected Salih’s store on three occasions in 2014 and 2015 and seized around 400,000 cigarettes – including both fake and genuine cigarettes on which UK duty had not been paid – as well as 50kg of hand rolling tobacco.
Illegal goods were hidden in a variety of concealed locations including a magnetically sealed shop counter, a padlocked room in the upstairs property, and a fridge.
In 2016 Salih failed to attend the plea and trial preparation hearing which resulted in Wolverhampton Crown Court issuing a warrant for his arrest. It soon became apparent that he had left the city and no longer lived in Wolverhampton.
Last June Salih was finally arrested by Kent Police as he attempted to make his way out of the country via Dover.
On 20 November 2019, Salih pleaded guilty to seven counts of the indictment, admitting he knowingly possessed and sold tobacco that was counterfeit and illegal.
Councillor Steve Evans, cabinet member for City Environment at City of Wolverhampton Council said: “Selling and supplying counterfeit tobacco is a serious crime that not only robs the public purse of much-needed revenue, but also poses a real threat to public health.
“Selling these products brings unwanted organised crime into our communities and undermines our efforts to discourage smoking.
“I hope today’s outcome sends out a warning to those who continue to fund this criminal activity, that we are serious about clamping down on the sale of these illegal and dangerous products.
“I encourage anyone who knows of illegal tobacco being sold to report it, so we can work together to tackle this issue, and to prosecute offenders.”