A SHOP could be forced to shut down after more than 4,500 illegal cigarettes were found on the premises.

Officers from Trading Standards have found smuggled tobacco twice during visits to the Big Up off licence in Ipswich Road, Colchester.

Bosses from the store received an official warning last year after enforcement officers made their first inspection in November last year after they had a tip-off about the goods.

On their first visit they found 3,200 cigarettes and 1.5kg of hand rolling tobacco which had foreign labels and had evaded UK excise duty.

Some of the tobacco was also thought to be counterfeit.

The goods were seized and destroyed but more was found when Trading Standards went back to the shop in August.

Illicit tobacco including 1,349 cigarettes in three different Malboro varieties and 1.3kg of Golden Virginia and Amber Leaf rolling tobacco was found under the shop counter and in a nearby microwave.

Again, the packets had foreign labels - mainly Polish - were UK excise duty evaded and were not compliant with labelling and packaging requirements.

Trading Standards have now called for a review of the shop’s licence with boss Shahram Afrooz set to face a Colchester Council committee at the end of the month.

Councillors could decide to revoke the shop’s licence, suspend it or ban the store from selling tobacco.

Trading Standards operational manager Alan Richards has applied for the review.

In his statement he said: “The review is being sought to prevent further crime and disorder occurring at the premises.

“It is the view of this department the business must be seen to ensure criminal activity does not take place on the premises and the sale of illicit tobacco by the business undermines the licensing

objective of crime and disorder.

“The sale of counterfeit and duty evaded products often contributes to other serious organised crime and it impacts upon fair competition for legitimate traders and can be detrimental to the local economy.

“This criminal activity is visible to customers and residents.”

The Gazette visited the store but was told Mr Afrooz was unavailable.