SNIFFER dogs helped uncover a haul of imported cigarettes and illegal tobacco hidden behind a secret panel at a pound shop in Halliwell.

Now the father and son shopkeepers will have to pay £15,000 in fines after the operation by Bolton Council's trading standards department.

Gul Nasir Khan and his son, Hikmatyar Khan, admitted a catalogue of offences relating to selling illegal tobacco at Bolton Magistrates Court.

Their crimes were uncovered after they tried to hide the tobacco behind the panel in a wall, as well as around the shop.

During three inspections at the Special Pound Shop, in Halliwell Road, officers found more than 8,000 imported cigarettes and more than 7kg of illegal hand-rolling tobacco.

Despite being given a warning following the first inspection in July last year, the store continued to stock the items.

Two more inspections revealed a further 7,600 illegal cigarettes and 5.25kg of illegal hand-rolling tobacco seized.

Trading standards teamed up with police and North West Trading Standards’ Illicit Tobacco Team to carry out the inspections.

Specialist detection dogs were used to sniff out the tobacco.

Tobacco found did not contain health warnings and a large amount of items were identical to items sold under registered trade marks.

Hikmatyar Khan, aged 25, of Belmont Road, Astley Bridge, was fined £10,000 with £1,332 costs.

Gul Nasir Khan, aged 59, of the same address, was fined £5,000 with costs of £770.

A council spokesman said: “Offenders need to know that they will face severe penalties if they choose to deal in these illegal products.

“The detection dogs can find tobacco and cigarettes, even if they hidden in the most unlikely places.

“Our trading standards team has been working successfully with the police and dog handlers to cut the supply of cheap illegal tobacco.”

  • Information about illegal tobacco can be passed confidentially to the North West Illicit Tobacco Team on 01925 442 466; to Trading Standards on 03454 040 506 or Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.