A MAN who led a Newport crime gang which made more than half a million pounds selling fake cigarettes and was jailed earlier this year has been ordered to repay £225,000.

Tahar Mohammed was sent to prison for three years in January after admitting overseeing an crime ring selling fake cigarettes from a shop in Commercial Road, Newport.

And earlier this week Cardiff Crown Court ordered the 39-year-old to pay back £255,026.39 after an investigation found the total amount of money made by the operation was £558,670.57.

As part of this the building in Commercial Road will be sold at auction, his car will be given to Newport City Council to be sold, equity in his family home in Hawthorn Close, Chapel Church, Bristol, worth £40,000 will be handed over and all the money in his bank account will also be confiscated.

Mohammed has three months to pay the total amount or face an extra three and a half years in jail.

An investigation by Newport City Council’s trading standards officers, HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) and police searched a flat above Eastern European Food in Commercial Road, which was owned by Mohammed and found a chute under the floorboards leading directly into the shop’s stockroom.

A baby monitor found next to the chute was used to communicate with colleagues in the shop who were selling the tobacco to customers.

More than 225,000 counterfeit and non-duty paid cigarettes, and more than 112kg of hand rolling tobacco were also found in a storage unit owned by Mohammad.

Officers found the same boxes with identical batch numbers at the Commercial Road store.

More than 500,000 illicit cigarettes and 194.8kg of hand rolling tobacco were also found in a garage at Mohammed’s Bristol home, along with more than £40,000 in cash hidden under his bed and bags containing thousands of pounds in coins.

Newport City Council’s cabinet member for licensing and regulation Cllr Ray Truman said: "This week’s hearing was a very satisfactory conclusion to a successful investigation and prosecution.

"We will not hesitate to prosecute others involved in such activity and urge anyone who suspects people are selling counterfeit goods or services to call our rogue trading hotline 01633 235233 in confidence."

Two other men who worked in the shop, Richard Jendrejcak, aged 46, and Burham Karim, aged 39, were also sentenced for their part in the crime.