Off-licence fined thousands over illegal cigarettesPacks of illegal cigarettes were being sold for as little as £4.50
The owner of a Walthamstow off-licence has been fined thousands after selling illegal cigarettes for as little as £4.50 a pack.
Mehmet Pektas, owner of Copper Mill Off Licence in Coppermill Lane, was fined £2,000 in total after Waltham Forest Council discovered smuggled and counterfeit tobacco.
In total, more than 20,000 cigarettes and nine kilograms of loose tobacco were found hidden in the shop during a raid in January last year.
When questioned Mr Pektas said he had bought the entire stash for £2,800 from a stranger who came into his shop.
Deputy leader Clyde Loakes said: “This was great work by our Trading Standards team. Thanks to tip-off from a member of the public, they were able to bust this illegal enterprise in the heart of our community.
“Illegal cigarettes not only carry significantly more health risks, but they also deprive our vital public services such as the NHS of funding through loss of tax revenue. The trade puts law-abiding businesses at a disadvantage and feeds into serious criminality.
“Make no mistake, this is not a victimless crime and I’d urge anyone who knows of a shopkeeper selling under the counter cigarettes to report it to our Trading Standards team.”
At a hearing on 8th November, Thames Magistrates Court heard Pektas claim the sales of illegal tobacco helped him meet his expenses to keep the business running.
By bypassing normal taxes, he was able to sell packs of cigarettes for £4.50 and packets of rolling tobacco for as little as £6.
Mr Pektas was fined £1,124, in addition to £1,276 costs and a victim surcharge of £112. He was given 28 days to pay.
When visited today by the Echo, he declined to comment for this article.
To report businesses trading in illegal tobacco to Waltham Forest Trading Standards, call 0208 496 3000 or email email@example.com.