Photo of some of the seized tobacco

Four shops have been temporarily closed down after a multi-agency operation uncovered more than 12,000 untaxed cigarettes and illicit tobacco in newsagents across Medway.

The enforcement action was taken across Friday 16 and Saturday 17 July 2021, with Kent Police officers working in partnership with HM Revenue and Customs, Medway Council, the Home Office and Kent Fire and Rescue Service.

Specialist search dogs who were trained to search for tobacco also assisted and helped to uncover the seized goods, which had not paid the necessary UK duties.

In total, 12,140 cigarettes were seized along with an additional 9.8kg of rolling tobacco.

In Chatham, search warrants were executed at Chatham Express in the High Street, Kany Shop in the High Street and Supermart Xpress in Batchelor Street. Warrants were also executed in Strood at MJ Mini Market in Darnley Road and Euro Market in Cedar Road.

On Monday 19 July closure notices were served on the two premises in Strood along with Kany Shop and Chatham Express in Chatham. These temporary orders forced the shops to immediately shut pending full closure hearings.

On Monday 26 July a full closure hearing was held at Folkestone Magistrates’ Court where Euro Market in Strood was ordered to stay closed for three months.

Court hearings are due to take place at various magistrates’ courts for the remaining shops on Wednesday 28 and Friday 30 July.

Inspector Steve Bassett, from Kent Police’s Medway Community Safety Unit, said: ‘This latest operation is just another example as to how we are continuing to tackle the ongoing sale of illicit cigarettes and tobacco across Medway.

‘The sale of these items is well-organised and negatively affects legitimate law-abiding businesses operating in the same area. This type of criminality can also attract anti-social behaviour and violence.

‘We work closely with partner agencies to ensure that good results are achieved as a result of these warrants and will continue to work with these agencies to ensure our combined powers are used to take the most robust action with the ultimate aim of reducing crime and keeping community safe.’

By Ed

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