A DEWSBURY trader has been jailed after more than 160,000 illegal cigarettes were found at premises where he was working.
Arkan Rashid Ahmad, of Hunza Court, was sentenced to 15 months following a series of raids on the Global Groceries store in Dewsbury town centre.
West Yorkshire Trading Standards officials first received complaints about Global Groceries, on Bradford Road, back in June 2010.
Tobacco products were seized by trading standards officials, accompanied HM Revenue and Customs officers, in raids in 2011 and 2012.
On January 10 2014, after receiving a further complaint about illicit tobacco, a trading standards team visited the premises with a sniffer dog.
Illicit tobacco products were found hidden underneath a shelving unit.
Later that day West Yorkshire Police received information that the shop had restocked its supply.
Officers then re-visited and further illegal tobacco products were found, both on-site and in a basement storage unit.
A further inspection was carried out on May 19 2014, when Ahmad was working in the shop.
Officers carried out a thorough search and in the storeroom found a hole had been cut out of the floor under crates of soft drinks.
Over 39,000 illicit cigarettes and 209 packs of rolling tobacco were found hidden under the floor. The items were seized from Ahmad, who claimed to know nothing about them.
Excise duty owed on the tobacco amounted to £11,827.
A search conducted in storage units revealed another 120,000 cigarettes and 449 packs of illicit rolling tobacco – with excise duty of £34,481 unpaid.
On Monday Ahmad pleaded guilty to possession with intent to supply illicit tobacco products and was jailed for 15 months.
The tobacco was destroyed and he must also pay a victim surcharge of £100.
David Lodge, head of West Yorkshire Trading Standards Service, said: “This significant prison sentence should serve as a warning to those who are involved in this illegal trade – our tobacco team, supported by Public Health across West Yorkshire, has seized more than one million cigarettes and will continue to identify those operating illegally.
“I would urge anyone with information on sales of illegal tobacco products to contact Citizens Advice Consumer Helpline on 03454 040506.”