News item

Successful prosecution for Bristol's largest haul of illegal tobacco

A Bristol man has been sentenced to eight months in prison and ordered to pay significant fines and costs for selling illegal tobacco. 

Mr Hardi Mohamed’s business Healthy Foods (Bristol) Ltd was raided by Bristol Trading Standards in June 2013 where a huge quantity of illegal tobacco – 746,620 individual counterfeit cigarettes and 250kg of hand rolling tobacco was seized. The raids took place in shops and lock-ups based in Horfield, Fishponds and Redfield. 

At Bristol Crown Court on Friday 4th July Healthy Foods (Bristol) Ltd was fined a total of £38,000 and ordered to pay £23,620 in costs to Bristol City Council. Investigations into the supply chain are continuing. 

Bristol City Council Trading Standards Manager Jonathan Martin said 

“We are very happy with the outcome of this case. Mr Mohamed was shown to have a significant operation between three shops under his control. The large seizure of illicit tobacco and alcohol and this subsequent sentencing has dealt a hammer blow to the supply chain in Bristol of these damaging goods. 

“This service has worked tirelessly to bring this case to the courts and we are satisfied that justice has been done. The justice system appreciates the serious nature of this offending and its effects on local businesses and consumers. Along with the documented link to the wider funding of terrorism, human trafficking and organised crime this result will hopefully send a message that the buying and selling of illicit tobacco is not a victimless crime and offenders will be pursued by this service and brought to justice.” 

Assistant Mayor for Neighbourhoods Cllr Gus Hoyt said: 

"Illegal tobacco is often sold at 'pocket money' prices that encourage young people to take up smoking and make it easier for people to stay hooked on tobacco. Removing it from the market is key to protecting residents' health. This successful prosecution shows that we can damage the supply of illegal tobacco in Bristol.” 

The sale of illegal tobacco is a criminal offence. Anyone wishing to report the selling of illegal tobacco can report anonymously online to Trading Standards at www.stop-illegal-tobacco.co.uk or call the charity Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111. They cannot trace your call and will never ask for your name. 

Ends 

Notes for Editors 

1. Research for a new campaign by Smokefree Southwest shows that nearly one in five (17%) Bristol smokers use illegal tobacco, which is known to be a key route to young people taking up smoking and to bring criminals into communities. The campaign is currently running as radio and billboard advertising. 

More images availbale on request.

DATE: 8 July 2014