TWO Newport convenience stores which sold illegal cigarettes and tobacco have been closed following a lengthy trading standards investigation.

Zam Zam Shop, at 58 Commercial Street; and Azmar Mini Market, at 92 Commercial Street; repeatedly sold illegal tobacco to consumers and undercover Newport City Council trading standards operatives over several years.

Raids and arrests, as well as seizures of illicit tobacco worth thousands of pounds, had failed to stop the stores' illegal trading, the council said.


Closure orders lasting three months have been granted against each premises by the courts.

In a statement, Newport council said both premises were "prolific" sellers of illegal tobacco.

"Often the ownership of the business changed soon after each enforcement action, and there was a high turnover of staff, frustrating officers when carrying out traditional enforcement methods of inspection and seizure," the council said. "There were concerns by the council and its partners that these shops were nothing more than a ‘front’ for selling illegal products by organised criminals."

The council said staff at Zam Zam Shop had sold illegal tobacco to consumers and undercover operatives on 25 occasions since February 2015.

During that period, officers seized a total of 3,744 packets of cigarettes, with a retail value of £37,000; and 303 pouches of tobacco, with a retail value of £6,000.

At Azmar Mini Market, staff had sold illegal tobacco to consumers and undercover officers on 14 occasions since March 2016.

In that time, 1,584 packets of cigarettes, with a retail value of £15,000; and 463 pouches of tobacco worth £8,000 were seized.

A Proceeds of Crime Act hearing led to a further £7,000 being seized by Newport council.

The council's investigation also involved Gwent Police, Aneurin Bevan University Health Board, Ash Wales, South Wales Fire and Rescue, Newport NOW, and HM Revenue and Customs.

A closure order for Zam Zam Shop was granted at Newport Magistrates' Court on Thursday, October 10.

The same type of order had been granted on July 26 against Azmar Mini Market.

Under those orders, both premises were closed for three months.