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Shopkeeper who used secret chute to sell smuggled tobacco is rumbled by sniffer dog


Manchester trader Amir Sohail was fined £3,000 after trading standards officers and their four-legged friend Bertie found a pipe leading to an upstairs room


A shopkeeper was caught out selling dodgy tobacco after a sniffer dog found a secret chute behind his counter.

Amir Sohail had installed the sophisticated delivery system where £10,000 of cigarettes, loose tobacco and snuff was hidden in an upstairs room.

Investigators said that when an order was placed the 44-year-old would radio upstairs where the smuggled tobacco was put into a chute below the floorboards of the first floor room.

It would come out of a secret hatch behind the ground floor shop counter.

But his scam unravelled after trading standards officers received a tip-off and sent ‘tobacco sniffer dog’ Bertie who discovered the chute.


Council trading standards officers seized 3,500 cigarettes, 2kg of tobacco and 27 packets of snuff from Sohail’s shop in Levenshulme. Manchester.

They found them in an upstairs room where a piece of flooring had been removed, revealing the top of a pipe leading to the shop below.

At Manchester Magistrates Court Sohail pleaded guilty to selling illicit tobacco products.

He was fined £3,000, plus £957 costs and a £300 victims of crime surcharge. HK$52,000

Sohail had been previously prosecuted for similar offences in January 2014, when he was sentenced to a 12 month conditional discharge and ordered to pay costs of £900, plus a £15 victims of crime surcharge.


Cllr Nigel Murphy, Manchester City Council’s executive member for neighbourhoods, said: “Illicit tobacco products are often sold to customers at a much lower price than their legal equivalents, making it easier for children to start smoking and become addicted to tobacco.

“They are often manufactured in completely unregulated environments.

“This case demonstrates the lengths that some unscrupulous traders will go to in order to disguise their criminal activities, but also that our officers will stop at nothing to find them.

“The size of the fine shows the courts agree with us about the severity of the offence.”

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