Shop’s secret compartment conceals further illegal tobacco haul in Gloucester
Trading standards officers from Gloucestershire County Council discovered illegal tobacco worth £5000 hidden inside a remote controlled secret chamber.
The tobacco was found at a shop in Eastgate Street, Gloucester earlier this week. A hole had been dug in the shop floor beneath a sink unit at the back of the shop to conceal a specially built shelving unit. This unit was raised using electric motors, operated via remote control, to bring it above ground level. When in its sunken position, the hole was virtually invisible to the human eye as it was covered in wood and skimmed concrete.
The shop has been a proven seller of illegal tobacco for numerous years. Trading standards have successfully prosecuted previous owners, all of whom used similar, sophisticated methods to conceal the tobacco, with the same brands being sold. This pattern has also been repeated in several shops around the county.
Andy Hermiston, head of trading standards at Gloucestershire County Council said: “This demonstrates the degree of sophistication involved in the sale of illegal tobacco. The hiding place has taken time and effort to create, suggesting a highly profitable activity.
“Trading standards will continue to prosecute shop owners who sell illegal tobacco from their shops.”
Sarah Scott, Gloucestershire County Council director of public health said: “Whilst we all know the dangers of smoking, counterfeit tobacco is often made without being subject to quality control and in many cases, the cigarettes do not self-extinguish as legal cigarettes are required to by EU law.
“I would urge smokers to stop supporting criminal activity by buying illegal tobacco and to seek support from the smoking cessation service. Call 0300 421 0040 or visit stopsmokingglos.nhs.uk.”