Shop the upstairs apartment second hand drop to sell illicit cigarettes, according to the advice

A chute was being used by a Cheetham Hill store to sell illicit tobacco from an apartment above, Manchester Council trade standards officers said.

More than 17,000 cigarettes and 2.75 kg of hand-rolled tobacco were found next to an audio device in the apartment above the Euro Market in Cheetham Hill Road.

Trade standards officers believe staff would sit in the apartment and listen to orders before passing produce to locals through the chute.

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Designated premises supervisor Hassan Darvishi denied having access to the apartment despite discovering documents relating to him as the owner of the store.

Another 80 counterfeit cigarettes and 103 fake football club masks were also found on Mr Darvishi when the store was raided in August.

The new owners of the store say the man is no longer linked to the business – but illicit tobacco was found on a staff member during another visit last week.

Illicit tobacco was seized in August

Barham Bakir Mohammed, who is expected to take over the store, said the three packs of foreign cigarettes found during the last visit belonged to him.

He said, “I don’t sell illegal cigarettes. I had three packages in my pocket that a friend of mine bought for me.

But trade standards officers questioned his claims during a clearance hearing on Monday (December 6) that took place just days after the last visit.

Devon Bennett said Mr Mohammed started yelling towards the back of the store – the same area where the fall was identified – when officers arrived.

“Striking footsteps” were then heard from the apartment above, Mr Bennett said.

He told the license hearing panel that despite the change in ownership, efforts to comply with license conditions or the law were not sufficient.

Speaking on behalf of the locals, Victoria Cartmell of Forrest Solicitors said Mr Mohammed worked in the store until 2018 before buying it.

She told the panel that she would train all staff after the hearing and asked advisers to donate to the store, which is “under a microscope,” to make matters better.

But Mr Bennett said it wasn’t just this store that was being closely watched.

He said: “The regions of Manchester are currently under the microscope.

“The issues we face as a city are exacerbated by the issues we face in these premises undermining these licensing goals.”

Advisors to the licensing subcommittee hearing panel decided to revoke the license saying they had “limited confidence” in the current management.

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