Sentenced: Kilburn man caught selling £35k worth of illegal tobbaco in his Marylebone shop

The illegal tobacco was hidden behind a false wall in the shop

The illegal tobacco was hidden behind a false wall in the shop - Credit: Archant

A shopkeeper from Kilburn has been given a suspended prison sentence for selling illicit tobacco worth more than £35,000 found behind a false wall in his store in Marylebone.

The Red Sea is in Edgware Road (pic: Google)

The Red Sea is in Edgware Road (pic: Google) - Credit: Archant

Murtaba Alijanabi, 46, of Greville Road, was caught selling the goods from his shop Red Sea in Egdware Road, in a joint operation by HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) and Westminster Trading Standards..

Yesterday at Southwark Crown Court he pleaded guilty and was sentenced to twelve months in prison, suspended for two years.

he was caught after two tobacco detection dogs sniffed out his stash of around 91,160 cigarettes and 81.65kgs of Shisha tobacco, that were mainly found hidden behind the false wall

Officers visit the premises the following day and seized a further 1,436 cigarettes, 13.26kgs of Shisha tobacco and 2.1kgs of hand rolling tobacco.

The stash was discovered by a sniffer dog

The stash was discovered by a sniffer dog - Credit: Archant

The total duty evaded is approximately £35,000 with the duty loss on the haul more than £14,500.

Councillor Nickie Aiken, Westminster Council cabinet member for public protection and licensing, said: “This Edgware Road shop owner will now have to face up to the consequences of his actions.

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“We will not accept the sale of illicit tobacco in our borough and will continue to work closely with HMRC to find and prosecute those who flout this law.

“It is not fair for legitimate retailers who play by the rules to be undercut by those who do not. Illicit tobacco all too often has links to serious organised crime, and by buying it individuals could inadvertently be putting money in the pockets of people involved in more sinister activity.”

Jennie Kendall from HMRC, said: “Alijanabi has been caught twice selling illegal tobacco. He now has a criminal record and will have to live with the consequences of his illegal activities. This is an excellent example of our partnership working with Westminster Trading Standards and we will continue our work to disrupt this illicit trade.

“Tobacco smuggling deprives public finances of over £2 billion a year and has a devastating impact on legitimate traders having to compete with the black market economy.”

Anyone with information on suspected tobacco fraud should contact the Customs Hotline on 0800 59 5000.