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BACCY BARON BUSTED; EXCLUSIVE We expose rogue trader fuelling pounds 30m illegal tobacco trade.

Byline: By DAVID TAYLOR

THIS newsagent is at the centre of an illegal trade in tobacco costing Scots shopkeepers pounds 30million a year.

Habid Raji sells packets of Golden Virginia rolling tobacco under the counter for pounds 6 - half the normal retail price.

Retailers claim a boom in black market tobacco has hit sales of authentic cigarettes.

Sunday Mail investigators bought two 50g pouches from Raji's Super News shop in Govanhill, Glasgow, for pounds 12 - the price of one genuine Golden Virginia pouch.

Raji, who keeps the dodgy baccy in a back room, warned our team: "Put them in your pocket before you leave the shop."

The packets had warnings in Dutch, French and German. Neither was marked with a UK duty stamp.

It is estimated UK shopkeepers lose pounds 3.5billion a year through the illegal tobacco trade - around pounds 20,000 each.

Tobacco Alliance campaign co-ordinator Katherine Graham said Scots retailers were among the worst affected.

She said: "Illegally smuggled cigarettes and counterfeit tobacco are threatening the livelihoods of small newsagents."

A Glasgow City Council spokesman said: "Anyone selling goods whether counterfeit or they have not paid duty is committing an offence and we will investigate."

d.taylor@sundaymail.co.uk

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Tobacco racket: Raji's shop; Greedy: Habid Raji
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Publication:Sunday Mail (Glasgow, Scotland)
Date:Feb 17, 2008
Words:212
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