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    Portsmouth c-store owner found guilty of supplying fake cigarettes

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    A convenience store owner in Portsmouth is found guilty of supplying fake branded cigarettes, Portsmouth City Council stated on Wednesday (1).

    Ali Kader Ismil of Maxstoke Close, Portsmouth, was convicted at Portsmouth Crown Court, on 22 April, following an investigation by Portsmouth City Council’s trading standards team which led to 14 counts of possession and supply of fake branded cigarettes, smuggled non-UK cigarettes and “cheap whites” which are unregulated black-market cigarettes. He was also convicted of one count of money laundering.

    In total 75,020 ‘illicit cigarettes’ with a value of over £40,000, were seized from Fratton Food Stores over four raids and three test purchases that the trading standards team carried out from March 2019 to November 2021. The value of these products is valued in excess of £40,000. Ali Ismil was the manager and later the owner of Fratton Food Stores.

    Additional to the seized cigarettes, seizures of cash £3,575 in the 2019 raid and £5000 in the 2021 raid were discovered hidden under the till. These findings were investigated and linked to the illicit cigarettes.

    Counterfeit cigarettes are unregulated and often contain dangerously high levels of harmful substances including heavy metals and other noxious carcinogens, way in excess of the legal products which have strict controls during manufacture. The black market in fake and smuggled tobacco is an extremely profitable revenue stream for organised crime groups and had been linked to other serious trafficking offences such as drugs and people.

    Ali Ismil stood trial on his own but was convicted alongside two others: Salar Karim Karam, former owner of Fratton Food Stores and Eakub Ali. Both Karam and Ali had pleaded guilty to some of these offences at an earlier hearing. All three are now due to be sentenced together on Friday 21st June 2024 at Portsmouth Crown Court.

    The council’s trading standards team help to protect residents from unscrupulous traders and ensure that businesses comply with the law. The team work with trained tobacco detection dogs to sniff out illegal tobacco at premises across the city, often based on information provided by members of the public or other businesses.

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