TWO shops selling counterfeit cigarettes and tobacco have been shut down after they were linked to “persistent criminality”.

Magistrates ordered the closure of Middle Eastern Mini-market and Parli Road Butchers, both based in Parliament Road, Middlesbrough.

This followed a joint operation by Middlesbrough Council’s environmental health and trading standards service and Cleveland Police.

At Middle Eastern Mini-market cigarettes and hand rolling tobacco were found hidden in the loft from where an individual was employed to pass cigarettes and tobacco through the hatch to order.

Magistrates in the town agreed that under the Anti-Social Behaviour Order, Crime and Policing act 2014, both premises should remain closed for a period of three months.

Judith Hedgley, Middlesbrough Council’s head of public protection, said: “These premises were shown to be involved in persistent criminality which was causing problems in the community.”