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Businessman pleads guilty to illegal tobacco smuggling

3:13 pm, Thursday, 6th April 2023 - 11 months ago

Environment and community safety

A Doncaster businessman has pleaded guilty to three charges after being caught by police whilst smuggling illicit cigarettes and tobacco out of Grimsby in a van.

Rizgar Ismail AZIZ, 46, of Broxholme Lane, Doncaster, appeared before Grimsby Magistrates Court on Tuesday 4 April in relation to three charges brought under the Standardised Packaging of Tobacco Products Regulations 2015, and the Tobacco and Related Products Regulations 2016.

A van owned and driven by Aziz was stopped by Humberside Police officers in March last year as it travelled out of Grimsby. On searching the vehicle, Police officers discovered illicit cigarettes and tobacco with a street value of £6,320 and a legitimate value of £15,300. The case was then passed to North East Lincolnshire Council’s Trading Standards officers to investigate.

The 20,000 smuggled Marlboro cigarettes and 120 x 50g pouches of Turner hand rolling tobacco did not carry the prescribed combined health warnings and were not in the required plain packaging.

Aziz initially claimed that the cigarettes were for personal use, but later pleaded guilty to all offences and was sentenced to a 12-month Community Order, with 150 hours of unpaid work. Aziz was also ordered to pay costs of £560 and a victim surcharge of £95.

Speaking after the court case, Trading Standards Project Officer at North East Lincolnshire Council, Mick Funnell, said:

“All tobacco is harmful but illegal tobacco tends to be priced much cheaper, making it easier for children to start smoking and get hooked.

“Sellers rarely care who they sell to. Fewer people are buying illegal tobacco and fewer people are now prepared to turn a blind eye to it.

“The illicit tobacco trade also has strong links to organised crime and criminal gangs, so those buying these products are often pouring money into things like people smuggling, drug dealing, money laundering and even terrorism.

“Even small-time local sellers are at the end of a long criminal chain – selling illegal tobacco is a crime.

“People can make a real difference to help keep more illegal tobacco off the streets by reporting it. We need to keep the pressure up on those who continue to sell it.”

Since the start of the Council’s illicit tobacco investigations under Operation Nightshade, and the latest joint operation between National Trading Standards and HMRC, Operation CeCe, almost 2-million illegal cigarettes and over a tonne of illegal tobacco have been removed from the streets of North East Lincolnshire.

If you suspect someone of being involved in the sale of illicit cigarettes and tobacco, you can report them online via www.nelincs.gov.uk/report-it.

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