Sniffer dog catches Wembley shop owner selling illegal cigarettes and tobacco

Mala Mini Market is in Wembley (Pic: Google)

Mala Mini Market is in Wembley (Pic: Google) - Credit: Archant

A shop owner in Wembley has been caught selling illegal cigarettes and tobacco products thanks to a sniffer dog who uncovered her hidden contraband.

A sniffer dog uncovered the illegal cigarettes (Pic: Brent Council)

A sniffer dog uncovered the illegal cigarettes (Pic: Brent Council) - Credit: Archant

Navamala Girirathan has admitted selling the goods at Mala Mini Market in High Road, Wembley, which failed to display mandatory health warnings.

She was snared after a suspicious undercover trading standards officer carried out a test purchase and was able to buy the illegal cigarettes.

The shop was subsequently raided the following week and a sniffer dog, which is trained to find illegal tobacco, uncovered hundreds of products hidden throughout the shop.

A total of 4,953 cigarettes in 364 packets, 278 sachets of smokeless tobacco and eight pouches of hand rolling tobacco were seized.

A sniffer dog uncovered the illegal cigarettes (Pic: Brent Council)

A sniffer dog uncovered the illegal cigarettes (Pic: Brent Council) - Credit: Archant


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Girirathan, who lives in Medway Gardens, Wembley, admitted failing to make any proper checks to ensure the products where legal when she bought them from an unknown man who had visited the shop.

She was ordered to pay £1,994 in fines and costs by Willesden Magistrates

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Cllr Michael Pavey, Brent Council’s cabinet member for stronger communities, said: “This conviction shows just how serious we are about coming down hard on those found to be selling illegal cigarettes and tobacco products in Brent.

“It is simply unacceptable for businesses to trade in a way that puts the public’s health at risk. Shops that sell tobacco products have a responsibility to ensure they are purchased from legitimate traders carrying the proper health warnings, so that the dangers of smoking are made clear to those who choose to buy them, and to ensure that they do not undercut business who are trading legitimately.

“We will continue to work with business owners in the borough to help them to get things right but will not hesitate in taking formal action against the small minority who have total disregard for the law.”

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