Sniffer dog finds illegal tobacco in James Bond style secret lair under Wakefield store’s floor

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A sniffer dog ferreted out a stash of contraband cigarettes stored in an underground ‘James Bond’ style lair.

The specially trained black Labrador sniffed something under the floor at Wars Sawa shop on Kirkgate during a raid by Trading Standards and police last September.

A sniffer dog from Wagtails

A sniffer dog from Wagtails

Hidden below the floor was almost £2,500 worth of illicit tobacco in a remote controlled pop-up compartment.

Owner Saman Ahmed Mahmood, 44, was ordered to perform 160 hours of unpaid community work after admitting possessing smuggled tobacco and cigarettes without proper health warnings last week.

David Lodge, Head of West Yorkshire Trading Standards, said: “Officers were shocked to find a “James Bond” style remote controlled under floor concealment containing illegal cigarettes.

“It could be accessed when Mr Mahmood, the owner and licence holder, activated the remote control. This in turn lifted the floor up to reveal the stash of illegal tobacco.

Concealed tobacco at Wars Sawa, Kirkgate.

Concealed tobacco at Wars Sawa, Kirkgate.

“This was a sophisticated concealment. However we routinely work with trained sniffer dogs to help identify hidden tobacco and those traders who think they can flout the law.”

Mahmood, of Kirkgate, told officers he was aware the concealed products were illegal to sell, but sold them to bring customers into his shop.

He said that if customers came in to buy cheap tobacco then they would also buy other products. He claimed without the sale of this tobacco he was not making enough money to pay his bills.

Magistrates sentenced him to a community order and also told him to pay £500 costs and a £60 victim surcharge.

Speaking after the case Mr Lodge said “Cheap and illicit tobacco undermines government policy on tobacco control and effectively increases juvenile’s access to tobacco.”

And Sgt Bob King, of West Yorkshire Police Licencing Team, said: “This is an excellent result and acknowledges the seriousness of this type of activity. We will continue to work closely with our colleagues at Trading Standards and Wakefield Neighbourhood Policing Team to ensure that this illegal activity is vociferously investigated and offenders are dealt with accordingly.”

Consumers or businesses wishing to report anyone supplying illicit tobacco should contact the Citizens Advice Consumer Helpline on 08454 040506.