Is this the strangest illegal tobacco hiding place so far?
Trading standards officers have found illegal tobacco at this Gloucester shop on multiple occasions, with increasingly unusual hiding places.
In the latest visit to the shop, located in Eastgate Street, Gloucester, trading standards officers carried out a thorough inspection of the shop floor and outside yard.
In the yard, they found a holdall near the fence which looked out of place. Opening it, they found 131 packets of cigarettes and 24 pouches of hand rolling tobacco.
Closer inspection of the fence revealed that it contained a hidden compartment, hinged to swing open like a door containing a further 390 packets of cigarettes and 110 pouches of tobacco.
Brands seized include Marlboro, Regal, Mayfair, Richmond and Minsk cigarettes and Golden Virginia and Amber leaf tobacco. It is expected that examination of the Mayfair, Richmond and Regal cigarettes will confirm they are counterfeit.
The shop would have made approximately £3000 from selling the seized items, and in doing so would have avoided paying approximately £7,500 in duty.
Andy Hermiston, head of trading standards, 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.”