Criminals involved in the possession and sale of counterfeit tobacco are being warned: ‘we will catch you, and take action’ – after the jailing of a shop owner in Hanley.
Stoke-on-Trent City Council has issued the warning after its trading standards team swooped on the 7-11 International Convenience Store in Hope Street in the town. They found shop owner Hamed Faris to have been in possession of counterfeit goods, including 39,780 cigarettes and 19kg of hand rolling tobacco hidden in a crevice behind a staircase in the store that was uncovered by officers in January 2019, and 5,020 illegal cigarettes and 1kg of hand rolling tobacco that were buried in a crate in the back garden of the premises, uncovered by officers in May 2019. On other occasions, Faris was found to have sold counterfeit tobacco over the counter in his store to undercover officers.
Faris pleaded guilty to 11 charges of supplying illegal tobacco over a six-month period between November 2018 and May 2019. He was sentenced at Stoke-on-Trent Crown Court on Monday 4 October to nine months imprisonment.
Now council leaders are sending out a strong warning that anyone found to be supplying counterfeit goods will face stiff action.
Councillor Carl Edwards, cabinet member for housing and the environment, said: “This sentencing should act as a stark warning to anyone who thinks they can get away with supplying fake tobacco in our city. It is not acceptable and we will catch you. And when we do, we will take action.
“Trading standards teams worked to build evidence over many months, including through test purchases and raids. The illegal tobacco trade ruins lives. Our teams are there to support and protect residents and businesses from criminals such as Faris. We take that responsibility seriously and will not tolerate those who break the law.”
If any residents or businesses have concerns over the supply or sale of illegal tobacco, they can contact the trading standards team on: firstname.lastname@example.org.