A SECOND Hereford shop has been forced to close for three months due to illegal tobacco sales.

Magistrates granted the three month emergency closure of International Food in Commercial Road on Monday.

Hereford Magistrates Court heard that the shop had persistently sold illegal tobacco for the last eight years despite numerous raids and prosecutions.

This closure order follows a notice granted against Zabka on Eign Gate, Hereford last week, which has also been closed for three months.

Breaching a closure order is a criminal offence, and anyone that attempts to access the address could be arrested.

In early October 12,500 cigarettes and 9kg of hand rolling tobacco was seized from International Food, as well as a significant amount of out-of-date food from the shelves of the store.

Sergeant Duncan Reynolds from West Mercia Police said: “The closure process has been the culmination of several months’ work involving evidence submitted by partner agencies including Herefordshire Council, Hereford and Worcester Fire and Rescue Service, HM Revenue and Customs and the Home Office, as well as local retailers and members of the public.

"The evidence of criminality and public nuisance has justified the use of emergency closure powers as a way to significantly disrupt this illicit activity. This tactic will now be pursued against similar businesses involved in this type of criminality across the county. The closure powers we’ve been able to use in this case emphasise how serious these offences are, and we will continue to work with our partners to ensure that organised criminals are unable to continue operating in Herefordshire."