A shop in Welling has been permanently closed by Bexley Council after selling illegal cigarettes and tobacco products.
The Bellegrove Convenience store in Bellegrove Road was found selling products which were not packaged or manufactured for legal sale in the UK.
Bexley Trading Standards used covert surveillance during the investigation for test purchases and product seizures.
This later turned out to be ongoing and organized commercial tenancy breaches, according to Bexley Council.
A Bexley Council spokesperson said the store had been the subject of extensive enforcement action for many years.
The council used proceeds of crime proceedings to shut down the trade in the shop.
The closure follows a similar store closure in September 2021 for the sale of illicit tobacco in Erith.
3,147 packs of cigarettes and 42 kilograms of rolling tobacco worth an estimated £32,000 were seized from the Erith shop.
Councilor Peter Craske, Bexley Cabinet Member for the Places, said: ‘Illegal tobacco not only harms our efforts to reduce smoking in the borough, but also poses a serious fire risk to residents of Bexley. .
“Our officers often find that long-established independent newsagents also experience a drop in business when criminals move into small retail units nearby.
“This successful shutdown will make a huge dent in the cash profits of these determined and organized criminals.
“We are determined to continue to work closely with law enforcement and business owners to track down and permanently stop the sale of contraband and dangerous under-the-counter products.”
Residents can report illicit tobacco sales by calling the Citizens Advice consumer helpline on 0808 223 1133.
A spokesperson for Bexley Council said: “The Council’s Trading Standards team has permanently closed the Bellegrove Convenience Store at 98 Bellegrove Road, Welling, for selling illegal cigarettes and tobacco products.
“The products are not manufactured or packaged for legal sale in the UK and when tested may not comply with UK safety regulations which require cigarettes to be automatically extinguished to prevent fires. servants.
“In conjunction with the police and the owner, Bexley Trading Standards used covert surveillance, purchase testing and product seizures.
“This evidence proves continual and organized breaches of the commercial lease.
“The lessor was then able to obtain a waiver of the lease.
“The store had been the subject of numerous law enforcement actions over several years which failed to stop criminal activity in the store.
“Using proceeds of crime procedures, the Council shut down retail in the borough.
“The closure follows the closure of a similar store in September 2021 for selling illicit tobacco in Erith, where 3,147 packets of cigarettes and 42 kilograms of hand-rolling tobacco worth an estimated £32,000 were seized.
“Bexley Trading Standards said stores like Bellegrove Convenience Store are often part of a nationwide network of premises leased specifically to supply contraband and counterfeit cigarettes and hand-rolling tobacco.
“These stores are trying to avoid lawsuits by employing casual staff and a complex network of owners.
“By tracking the money supply chain and working with business owners, Trading Standards Officers can take action against the proceeds of crime to permanently close stores.
“HMRC and Trading Standards investigations are ongoing into who is ultimately behind these stores.
“Residents can report illicit tobacco sales by calling the Citizens Advice consumer helpline on 0808 223 1133.”
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