An elaborate remote controlled hydraulic ‘chute’ system to deliver illegal cigarettes from an upstairs flat to a fake plug socket behind a shop counter was found by trading standards officers, a town hall meeting heard.

The piston-operated set up at California Wines Express, Wigan Road in Deane pushed packets down a chute to the shop below.

Trading standards said eight different remote control buttons delivered eight different brands of cigarettes into a concealed box behind a wall.

The Bolton News: The elaborate remote controlled hydraulic ‘chute’ system

During a second visit to the shop, trading standards officers saw bags containing illegal tobacco being thrown from an open skylight onto the roof of the premises.

A review of the shop's premises licence has been requested by Bolton Council’s trading standards department.

Ahead of the hearing, a report said the council believed a review was needed for ‘the prevention of crime and disorder’ at the premises.

The report detailed the trading standards raid on September 26.

It said: “An officer discovered 88 non-compliant vapes on a shelf behind the point of sale.

“She also found an open pack of B&H Superkings Blue under the sales counter.

“When the shop assistant was asked why the pack was there she advised that the shop sold ‘singles’ to customers which is illegal. “Officers conducting a search of the property found a small remote.

The Bolton News: The remote control

“They pressed the fob and heard a noise that sounded like something was falling.

“They then discovered a fake plug socket which when pulled from the wall revealed a small box into which cigarette packets had dropped.

“As a result of the concealment being activated packets of illicit cigarettes had dropped down.”

The report said the chute showed a clear link from the flat to the shop in respect of illegal activity.

In total, trading standards found and seized 128 packets of eight different brands. The report said it appeared on the visit that at least three people were living upstairs.

On October 31 another visit was made to the premises. An officer outside saw a skylight on the roof was wide open.

The report said: “An officer saw a man in the flat upstairs throwing a black bin bag onto the roof.

The Bolton News: Bags on the roof

“When they looked out of the window they saw another bag behind the chimney.”

The contents of the bags were examined and the report said they contained illicit tobacco including foreign labelled items.

In the bathroom the officers saw a ‘contraption’ in the corner.

The report, said: “The contraption was a hydraulic-based system.

“The machine pushed pressure down to pistons and these pistons pushed packets down a chute to the shop below.

“There were eight different buttons and eight different brands of cigarettes.

“The machine was dismantled.

“The sophistication of this concealment highlights how lucrative this illegal activity is, the clear criminal intention of the operators of these premises and the organised nature of this illegal activity.

“The lengths this business went to to hide the cigarettes and evade capture further shows that they were well aware that the goods were not legal to sell.”

The licence review was scheduled to be heard on Friday, February 9 but was adjourned to a later date.