Man arrested in raid on Gateshead shop

Istanbul Store cigarettes

One man was arrested and thousands of illegal cigarettes seized in a joint operation carried out by Gateshead Council and Northumbria Police on a shop in Gateshead.

Police officers, trading standards, enforcement and environmental health officers carried out a raid on Istanbul Stores in Coatsworth Road, Gateshead last Friday (January 25) as part of Northumbria Police's ongoing Operation Sentinel which is targeting serious and organised crime.

The raid uncovered a large quantity of illegal cigarettes and hand rolling tobacco hidden in a VW Passat parked at rear of the premises. The car was found to be owned by the business operator, with the keys to the vehicle in the possession of a shop assistant at the time of the raid.

The assistant was also found to be carrying an offensive weapon, and was promptly arrested.

As well as the cigarettes, Environmental Health Officers discovered a quantity of unidentified foodstuffs which had no English labelling and these were removed due to their lack of traceability for further investigation. The business operator was unable to say what they were or where he had got them from.

Investigations by Gateshead Council enforcement officers found that the premises had no current commercial waste contract and investigations are continuing into how they are disposing of their waste.

Anneliese Hutchinson, service director of Development, Transport and Public Protection, says:

Street view Google"This store has a history on non-compliance, so it was an obvious candidate for closer attention by officers working for Operation Sentinel.

"What we found was actually even worse than we feared. In particular, the discovery of unidentifiable and undocumented foodstuffs was of serious concern, as we have no way of telling whether it is safe for this material even to be in the food chain.

"We will be carrying out further investigations and continuing to work closely with Northumbria Police on this and other cases, and expect to make further joint visits in the future."

Detective Constable Gregory Haynes, Northumbria Police,  said: "Under the banner of Operation Sentinel we have been carrying a lot of proactive disruption of criminal operations to put offenders before the courts.

"This activity was carried out in partnership with the local authority and that multi-agency approach is typical to how we will look to disrupt organised crime in the North East.

"As part of these warrants we have made an arrest and a huge quantity of suspected illegal cigarettes have been seized from the property but this is just a small glimpse of the work we are doing.

"Our officers are working closely with partner agencies every day to search addresses like this one and identify those profiting from all manner of criminal activity.

"If you are involved in serious offending then you should expect a knock on the door and an early wake-up call because we are serious about bringing you to justice."

Illegal Tobacco - what you need to knowLast week, the Local Government Association (LGA) called on the government to increase fines and penalties for those found guilty of trading in fake or tax-free tobacco and cigarettes after they claimed it was undermining efforts to reduce smoking and was costing the UK economy more than £2bn a year in unpaid duty.

They claimed that millions of cheap, illegal cigarettes are currently flooding the market, with criminals and rogue traders using sophisticated secret places to store them.

It is widely believed that the sale of cheap, illegal tobacco is funding organised criminal gangs and damaging legitimate traders, as well as making it easier for young people to get hooked on smoking.

Cigs seized in joint raid
31 January 2019

One man was arrested and thousands of illegal cigarettes seized in a joint operation carried out by Gateshead Council and Northumbria Police on a shop in Gateshead.

Police officers, trading standards, enforcement and environmental health officers carried out a raid on Istanbul Stores in Coatsworth Road, Gateshead last Friday (January 25) as part of Northumbria Police's ongoing Operation Sentinel which is targeting serious and organised crime.

The raid uncovered a large quantity of illegal cigarettes and hand rolling tobacco hidden in a VW Passat parked at rear of the premises. The car was found to be owned by the business operator, with the keys to the vehicle in the possession of a shop assistant at the time of the raid.

The assistant was also found to be carrying an offensive weapon, and was promptly arrested.

As well as the cigarettes, Environmental Health Officers discovered a quantity of unidentified foodstuffs which had no English labelling and these were removed due to their lack of traceability for further investigation. The business operator was unable to say what they were or where he had got them from.

Investigations by Gateshead Council enforcement officers found that the premises had no current commercial waste contract and investigations are continuing into how they are disposing of their waste.

Anneliese Hutchinson, service director of Development, Transport and Public Protection, says:

Street view Google"This store has a history on non-compliance, so it was an obvious candidate for closer attention by officers working for Operation Sentinel.

"What we found was actually even worse than we feared. In particular, the discovery of unidentifiable and undocumented foodstuffs was of serious concern, as we have no way of telling whether it is safe for this material even to be in the food chain.

"We will be carrying out further investigations and continuing to work closely with Northumbria Police on this and other cases, and expect to make further joint visits in the future."

Detective Constable Gregory Haynes, Northumbria Police,  said: "Under the banner of Operation Sentinel we have been carrying a lot of proactive disruption of criminal operations to put offenders before the courts.

"This activity was carried out in partnership with the local authority and that multi-agency approach is typical to how we will look to disrupt organised crime in the North East.

"As part of these warrants we have made an arrest and a huge quantity of suspected illegal cigarettes have been seized from the property but this is just a small glimpse of the work we are doing.

"Our officers are working closely with partner agencies every day to search addresses like this one and identify those profiting from all manner of criminal activity.

"If you are involved in serious offending then you should expect a knock on the door and an early wake-up call because we are serious about bringing you to justice."

Illegal Tobacco - what you need to knowLast week, the Local Government Association (LGA) called on the government to increase fines and penalties for those found guilty of trading in fake or tax-free tobacco and cigarettes after they claimed it was undermining efforts to reduce smoking and was costing the UK economy more than £2bn a year in unpaid duty.

They claimed that millions of cheap, illegal cigarettes are currently flooding the market, with criminals and rogue traders using sophisticated secret places to store them.

It is widely believed that the sale of cheap, illegal tobacco is funding organised criminal gangs and damaging legitimate traders, as well as making it easier for young people to get hooked on smoking.

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