A shopkeeper has appeared in court after thousands of cigarettes were seized from his store following a massive operation to trap counterfeit cigarette traders.
Hundreds of the 12,000 cigarettes and tobacco confiscated from Hishyar Gully’s Dewsbury store were illegal.
Sniffer dogs uncovered two compartments designed to conceal the prohibited stash.
The raid on the Biedronka convenience store came as part of a large-scale operation led by West Yorkshire Trading Standards officers last March.
Amongst the products seized were illegal Jin Ling cigarettes, which were associated with a woman’s death in a house fire in 2012.
Gully was found guilty after a trial at Kirklees Magistrates’ Court of nine charges of possessing goods with a false trade mark for hire and one charge of fraudulent trading.
He had pleaded guilty to three charges of failing to display a warning notice regarding underage sales.
Operation Quit was planned to crack down on the supply of illicit tobacco across the region. One of the stores targeted by trading standards officials was Gully’s Huddersfield Road store.
On March 9 an undercover officer was sold a packet of Golden Virginia hand rolling tobacco.
Miles Barker, prosecuting on behalf of West Yorkshire Trading Standards, said: “He paid £3 for this when the genuine article would normally cost £17. A further visit was made to the premises and there were two concealments for the purpose of storing these products.
“One was in a counter and one was in a wall and they were found by two sniffer dogs.”
A total of 530 prohibited items of tobacco were found inside a panel cut out of a shop counter and screwed back down.
Elsewhere in the store a mirror hid an opening containing further counterfeit products, which was operated using a hydraulic system.
Mr Barker said: “More products were found along with £1,000 in cash. Some trouble had clearly been gone to in order to create these concealments.
“There was a level of sophistication in the storage of these items.”
Gully, of Crown Flatts Way in Dewsbury, was accused of fraudulent trading as duty amounting to £3,900 had not been paid on the products.
The illegal cigarettes found, particularly Jin Ling, also had the potential of putting the health of customers at risk, Mr Barker said.
He told the court: “They have been found to contain other materials including arsenic, cyanide, droppings and sawdust.
“Very few of these comply with EU regulations and one woman in Lincolnshire fell asleep (while smoking a Jin Ling cigarette) and burned to death.”
Simon Lindley, mitigating, said there was no evidence that any of the items sold inside the shop contained harmful substances as they had not been tested.
Magistrates committed Gully to Leeds Crown Court for sentencing on March 16.