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Evening Standard
Evening Standard
Josh Salisbury

Southall raid uncovers illicit cigarettes, painkillers and erectile dysfunction drugs at west London shop

Thousands of illicit cigarettes, painkillers and erectile dysfunction tablets were found in a council raid on a west London shop.

The bust on Bally’s Express on Southall’s Dudley Road uncovered 2,960 fake cigarettes and more than 5,040 non-duty paid cigarettes, alongside 9.4 kilos of tobacco, kept in a van outside.

Ealing Council voted to strip the shop of its licence this week following the January raid and after hearing the unpaid duty was more than £3,600.

Enforcement officials also found thousands of prescription-only Tramadol tablets, a strong opioid painkiller which can be addictive, and sildenafil, the active ingredient in Viagra.

Councillors heard a previous raid in 2019 also found illicit booze and cigarettes hidden in a freezer, dodging duty of £1,200, which led to a three-month licence suspension.

Licensing enforcement officer Bob Dear told the hearing: “The intel we have was that it’s kept in the van outside and if someone wants something, the shop worker will run out to grab the item and then run back in to serve the customer.”

The stash was uncovered after a shop worker became nervous and appeared to push something into his pocket, which were keys to the van outside, the meeting heard.

A member of the public also tipped off enforcement officials about the van as they entered the shop.

The shop was not represented at the hearing and licence holder Philip Clarke did not respond to officials’ attempts to contact him, councillors were told.

Mr Dear added they were “serious offences”, saying: “He had the chance back in 2019, it just shows these different methods to hide things and he still continues to sell illicit products from his shop and he’s never there to train staff and make sure they’re not doing things wrong.”

Ruling to strip the shop of its licence, licensing panel chair Cllr Gareth Shaw said: “The visit to the premises in January 2024 by the licensing compliance team and other responsible authorities uncovered a large amount of illicit items, including counterfeit and non-duty paid cigarettes, roll-your-own tobaccos and prescription drugs.

“Some of the prescription drugs, the panel noted, were highly addictive and the premises was not licensed to sell any such drugs.”

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