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    Police shut down Cleveland shops for third year over illegal activity

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    The owners of a couple of shops in Cleveland have been forced to close their business for the third year in a row after suspected illegal cigarettes and tobacco products were found at the premises.

    Trading Standards, accompanied by a tobacco detection dog and handler and Cleveland Police officers, inspected 170 High Street, Redcar, in December 2023 after receiving reports that a business, which had recently opened, was selling illegal cigarettes. The unnamed business that didn’t have any signage.

    A District Judge at Teesside Magistrates Court was informed that one of the premises had no signage providing a business name and that the windows had been covered in paint to obscure the view from the street.

    During the raid by council officers and police, a quantity of cigarettes and hand-rolling tobacco products which were suspected to be counterfeit was seized from the premises. The hearing was told that the individuals running the unnamed business had previously been involved in operating two other shops in Redcar, Redcar Mini Market and Ocean Continental Food Store, which had both previously been subject to Closure Orders in 2022 and 2023 for the sale of illegal tobacco.

    The second application for a closure order against LA European Mini Market trading from 15 Ennis Square, Dormanstown, Redcar, TS10 5JZ, was granted by magistrates on the same day for three months. The shop has been shut down following sales of illegal vapes and cigarettes.

    Magistrates heard that after receiving a complaint about the sale of a vape to an underage person, the business received advice on the sale of age-restricted products from Redcar and Cleveland Trading Standards in July 2023 but further complaints were received by Trading Standards about underage sales, along with reports that the shop was selling illicit tobacco and non-compliant vapes.

    The company and its directors were provided with formal written warnings in November 2023.

    A second inspection was carried out in December 2023 with a tobacco detection dog and handler after Trading Standards continued to receive complaints about the business. During the inspection, tobacco products and vapes were recovered from an individual who was attempting to exit the business with the products in a food delivery bag and a carrier bag.

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