County Durham store closed linked to illegal cigarettes and tobacco

A County Durham store has been ordered to close for three months after being linked to the sale of illegal cigarettes and tobacco.

The Blackhall Colliery Lifestyle Express store has been closed by a court following a request from the Durham County Council Community Protection Team.

During an investigation by trade standards officers, it was discovered that illegal tobacco products were being sold in the Middle Street store.

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Warrants were executed at Blackhall and addresses in Middlesbrough on September 8 and a substantial amount of tobacco products and cash were seized.

Two men arrested during the operation were questioned in connection with alleged conspiracy to supply counterfeit tobacco and money laundering offenses, and were released under investigation.

Peterlee magistrates heard testimony from the council after which they concluded that criminal activity would continue if the request was not granted.

The store is to remain closed until December 16.

Owen Cleugh, the council’s public protection officer, said: “We are very happy with the magistrates’ decision.

“The sale of illegal tobacco often goes hand in hand with other forms of crime, facilitates the smoking of children and affects retailers who operate within the law.

“Our officers are committed to reducing the damage caused by the illegal tobacco trade and I urge members of the public to continue to report this to us so that we can take appropriate action.”

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