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Hereford City shopkeeper fined for selling illegal tobacco

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Herefordshire Council’s Trading Standards carried out a joint raid as part of a Multi Agency Targeted Enforcement Strategy operation

Zabka.jpg.cb2f95943f2ca81fc5a56a6d09823ebf.jpg

A Hereford City shopkeeper has been fined for selling illegal tobacco in a case taken to court by Herefordshire Council’s Trading Standards service.

Adam Ibrahim, 26, of Bank Street Dudley, pleaded guilty yesterday (Monday 1 October 2018) at Hereford Magistrates’ Court to six offences of possession and sale of illegal tobacco, all of which was non UK duty-paid. The former owner of the Zabka shop at Eign Gate, Hereford, was fined and required to pay costs totalling £2472. Mr Ibrahim is the fourth consecutive owner of the Zabka shop in four years to be convicted of selling illegal tobacco. 

In January 2018, Herefordshire Council's Trading Standards, Hereford and Worcester Fire and Rescue Service and West Mercia Police undertook a joint raid as part of a Multi Agency Targeted Enforcement Strategy (MATES) operation. 1580 packets of illegal cigarettes and 132 pouches of illegal hand rolling tobacco were seized; products were found in sophisticated concealments hidden in the floor and in false backs to large fridges.

Marc Willimont, Herefordshire Council’s Head of Regulatory & Development Management Services, said:

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“The sale of illegal tobacco severely damages honest local businesses, as well as costing the tax payer £2 billion nationally. We will continue to work in partnership with the police to clamp down on this organised crime which is often associated with other criminal activity. This case was yet another successful outcome supported by multi-agency targeted enforcement which clearly shows the value of working in partnership with other agencies.” 

Sergeant Duncan Reynolds from West Mercia Police said:

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"The trade of illegal cigarettes and other commodities is not only harmful to health, it is the type of crime that can be linked to organised crime groups working across our county borders. Serious and organised crime has a devastating effect on communities. I would urge members of the public to work with the police and Trading Standards to recognise the signs and report them so they can be investigated thoroughly.

"This is yet another example of successful partnership working to tackle organised crime in our community. Alongside MATES, West Mercia Police’s Protect campaign will see neighbourhood officers continuing to work closely with other organisations using all the powers available to bring offenders to justice.”

 

There is further information about Herefordshire Trading Standards on the Herefordshire Council website at www.herefordshire.gov.uk/trading-standards

 

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There is an obvious trend here. Serious organised crime on an ongoing basis at the same shop. If they raided the shop every month they would probably get the same result! 

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I would also add that when there is such an obvious trend then legislation should be changed. to allow 'spot raids'. With no intelligence gathered. Also an an intensive investigation into whether the offender has passed EVERY hurdle to stay in the UK. Just being born here is not cutting it anymore. 

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I am sure you can all understand how frustrated I and my fellow Polish friends feel with these shops hiding behind the Polski Sklep sign feel, what is even more frustrating is that a lot of people think this shop owners are actually Polish, I mean do they really look Polish? Their name is often the giveaway. 

The only Polish shop in Hereford, as far as I am aware is Edysia (red and white) at bottom of Eign Gate. I do not use any of the others.

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4 hours ago, Irena Sulecka said:

I am sure you can all understand how frustrated I and my fellow Polish friends feel with these shops hiding behind the Polski Sklep sign feel, what is even more frustrating is that a lot of people think this shop owners are actually Polish, I mean do they really look Polish? Their name is often the giveaway. 

The only Polish shop in Hereford, as far as I am aware is Edysia (red and white) at bottom of Eign Gate. I do not use any of the others.

It has been pointed out many a time on this website that a Polish shop sign doesn't remotely mean that it's run/owned by by Polish people. The locals aren't fooled. The Police aren't fooled and the Council aren't fooled. There is a common theme when the next person fronted up to take the hit actually gets busted. They don't give a Hereford address to the Court. It's usually a Birmingham type address. So what we have is serious organised criminals operating a satellite operation in Hereford or Ross or wherever. They have either saturated the area where they've come from or they can't operate there because it's someone else's territory. It's a very similar business model to the illegal drug racket. 

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6 hours ago, Hereford Voice said:

Zabka in Eign Gate and and International in Commercial Road were raided again today! 

I'll take you at your word for that and will await the official press release. But this is very time consuming stuff. There seems to be a merry go round of raids and court cases ~ months down the line for the court result where the fine doesn't even dent the profits made between the raids. Then it's musical chairs shifting the next shop stooge in. There is no deterrent to hinder this activity! 

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I really can't keep up with this cat and mouse game. The next applicant for a booze licence at this, or another dodgy shop, will be fronted up as someone who has a 'clean' history. There is an endless supply of people the regulatory sub committee can't find evidence to refuse! 

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They should close down the repeating shops, this will send out the right signal, also impose bigger fines and prison sentences. 

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I have posted on many similar subjects/threads over the last few years and my view has been consistent:

1.  This is not a problem unique to this county, this is happening every day throughout the UK.

2.  The law is an ass..heard that before.  If a shop has an alcohol licence the Police can and  do take it to a licensing review to get it revoked.

3.  Revoking a licence does not mean that a shop can no longer trade.  This does happen in this county, but rarely in other areas of West Mercia who have bigger towns and cities, larger multi national communities and significantly more corner shops.  Perhaps locally the Police and the council have got their eye on the ball.

4.  The Police and council can use closure powers under the Anti-Social Behavior, Crime and Policing Act 2014.  The powers mean a court case in the Magistrates - who can order a premises to be closed for up to 6 months.  This means it excludes everyone - a part from the owner - from entering the premises. This rarely happens - but who knows with these shops...

5.  A landlord - who owns the premises - receives a rent.  If they are aware of the shop has been involved in criminal activity it is fair to say that they are receiving rent which has been obtained as proceeds of crime = money laundering.

6.  The law is inadequate - shops need to be closed permanently, those who own/operate them need to be disqualified from holding business leases.  If they are no EU citizens and fail to obey the law of the land and are convicted, UK Immigration can and do  have them removed from the UK.

7.  Lastly and most importantly very few of these shops are owned and run by Polish born citizens - they are normally run by Kurds and are a front for more sinister activities. If east Europeans shop at the premises, they are no different to those British citizens who are looking for cheap cigarettes and who do use these shops, and some openly sell tobacco brought in (by them) from abroad for so called personal use...its a crime...

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4.  The Police and council can use closure powers under the Anti-Social Behavior, Crime and Policing Act 2014.  The powers mean a court case in the Magistrates - who can order a premises to be closed for up to 6 months. 

I thought it was 3 months but it's fairly irrelevant as I've never heard of one being used in Hereford. If we focus on Zabka, a serial offence location, then who is the actual owner of the shop? Is it a Landlord? If so who is it? How long have they owned the shop? If the owner is a Landlord is it sufficient to get a new tenant in who has got a clean record and accept them at face value that they won't sell dodgy tobacco ~ when all the previous, similar, tenants did? All very unclear. There is woefully inadequate reassurance from the Police/Council that they are looking at the bigger picture. That they are looking at shop ownership. That they are looking to seek shop closures. Just busting the person at the bottom of the food chain every few weeks is not working. 

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On 03/10/2018 at 18:27, Hereford Voice said:

Zabka in Eign Gate and and International in Commercial Road were raided again today! 

WMP have now issued a fairly comprehensive update on their website about the raids ~ with video's showing the sophisticated concealment methods at both shops. Also they report that a significant amount of 'out of date' food was found on the shelves at Zabka. Which could suggest that far from being a proper food shop it's primarily an illegal tobacco operation with just window dressing on the shelves to make it look like it's primarily a food shop. 

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1 hour ago, Roger said:

WMP have now issued a fairly comprehensive update on their website about the raids ~ with video's showing the sophisticated concealment methods at both shops. Also they report that a significant amount of 'out of date' food was found on the shelves at Zabka. Which could suggest that far from being a proper food shop it's primarily an illegal tobacco operation with just window dressing on the shelves to make it look like it's primarily a food shop. 

Let us hope that they deal with these people more appropriate by issuing bigger fines or prison sentences.

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6 hours ago, Victor Wright said:

Kurds and turds, shut them down

Ha ha ha this gave me a chuckle. Bigger sentences required, up until now all they appear to do with these Iraqi people is give them a slap on the wrist. I am surprised that the local Polish community don't kick off because this is giving these innocent people and bad name to some.

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Marc Willimont‏ @Marc_Willimont 52m52 minutes ago

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Tomorrow we'll be court with the police to shut down 2 #Hereford shops, Zabka & International Foods, testing new rarely used #ASB powers. Let's hope we can end relentless seizing of illegal tobacco and unfit food with all the other exploitation and put them out of business.

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From the HEREFORDSHIRE CC press release ......

A three month emergency closure notice has been granted against Zabka (Eign Gate Hereford) today (Wednesday 10 October) due to the persistent sale and distribution of illegal tobacco at the store.

KHereford Magistrates’ Court granted the emergency closure, following a 48 hour closure notice issued to Zabka on Monday 8 October under the Anti-Social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Act 2014.

This is the first time in Herefordshire that an emergency closure notice has been used on premises that persistently sell illegal tobacco, despite previous court action and convictions. Only a handful of police forces and local authorities have used this new power, which was considered appropriate and proportionate because of the persistent disregard to the regulatory action previously taken. Breaching a closure order is a criminal offence, and anyone that attempts to access the address could be arrested.

The emergency closure notice follows a Multi Agency Targeted Enforcement Strategy (MATES) operation on Zabka and International Foods (Commercial Road Hereford) last Wednesday 3 October. Officers from Herefordshire Council’s Trading Standards and Environmental Health service, West Mercia Police and Hereford and Worcester Fire and Rescue Service seized 481 packets of illegal cigarettes and 15 pouches of illegal hand rolling tobacco from Zabka. 12,500 cigarettes and 9kg of hand rolling tobacco were seized from International Foods, and a significant amount of out of date food was also removed from the shelves of the store.

A further application to issue a 3 month closure notice against International Foods was postponed in court today due to time and will be heard at Hereford Magistrates’ Court on Monday 15 October

As Shaw Taylor used to say " Keep them peeled " there will probably be a back door entrance .........! 

 

Edited by Ubique

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These people don't give a toss about our laws. I don't know what time the International Foods case was in court today but my 'informant' (who I have spoken to personally) went in there at 12.30 PM today and bought a pouch of illegal cheap tobacco. The shutters were then seen to come down at 1 PM. So they were kicking the arse out of it right until the bitter end. As suggested by Ubique it is a cast iron guarantee that these shops will carry on their operations using different methods. 

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On a sub note Mila on Belmont Road was discussed on 5 September by The Council about shifting the licence. It was refused after a highly secretive session. Details redacted. This is very time consuming and costly to chase these dodgy enterprises. 

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INTERNATIONAL FOODS..........

Hereford Magistrates’ Court granted the closure order following West Mercia Police serving the premises with a 48 hour closure notice on Monday 8 October under the Anti-Social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Act 2014. The court heard that International Food had persistently sold illegal tobacco for the last eight years despite numerous raids and prosecutions.

This closure order follows a notice granted against Zabka on Eign Gate, Hereford last week. Only a handful of police forces and local authorities have used this new power, which was considered appropriate and proportionate due to the persistent disregard to previous regulatory action. Breaching a closure order is a criminal offence, and anyone that attempts to access the address could be arrested.

The closure order follows a Multi Agency Targeted Enforcement Strategy (MATES) operation on International Food in early October. On this occasion, officers from Herefordshire Council’s Trading Standards and Environmental Health service, West Mercia Police and Hereford and Worcester Fire and Rescue Service seized 12,500 cigarettes and 9kg of hand rolling tobacco, as well as a significant amount of out-of-date food from the shelves of the store.

 

 

Edited by Ubique

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International Food will reopen in due course. I suggest that a CSO should be permanently stationed outside when it does. The establishment [International Food] is trying, and mostly succeeding, in trying to have a laugh. It's been having a laugh for 8 years with a merry go round of stooges lined up to take a fall. WMP now need to go after the brains of the outfit. There will be several levels. But they [WMP] may only have time, and an inclination, to hit some low hanging fruit. They need to be targeting the 'Big Cheese'. 

Edited by Roger

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Update: International Food is now selling illegal tobacco via telephone contact. I won't disclose my source but this info. is 100% bang on the money. I received this info via word of mouth as opposed to any form of electronic communication. I could get the number, or one of the numbers, being used by this crime gang with minimal effort on my part. But I haven't tried. The ball is once again in Duncan Reynolds' court! 

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