Drug dealers ‘took over a sweet shop to sell cannabis disguised as Skittles’

·2-min read
The shuttered-up property in Bristol used to be Speedwell Mini Market. (SWNS)
The shuttered-up property in Bristol used to be Speedwell Mini Market. (SWNS)

Drug dealers took over a sweet shop to sell cannabis disguised as packets of Skittles and Jelly Tots, a council heard.

Speedwell Mini Market in St George, Bristol, became a hub for organised crime with a gang using vulnerable children to ferry drugs around the city.

Police told a Bristol City Council licensing sub-committee meeting on Thursday that pre-printed empty Skittles and Jelly Tots packets were found on the premises on Ventor Road.

Councillors agreed with an application by Avon and Somerset Constabulary to revoke the shop's licence.

Councillors agreed with an application by Avon and Somerset Constabulary to revoke the shop's licence. (SWNS)
Councillors agreed with an application by Avon and Somerset Constabulary to revoke the shop's licence. (SWNS)

Inspector Kris Harris, of Avon and Somerset Police, said that over the past 18 months there had been more than 100 reports of suspicious activity at the shop.

He added the force had "significant concerns related to the premises."

He said: "If action is not taken, there is a risk of serious harm or exploitation taking place.”

Sports cars regularly made brief stops at the shop to collect packages and police had also found mobile SIM cards and illicit Viagra on sale behind the shop counter.

The shop had previously been run as a family business before it was leased out in 2017.

But while the owner had been absent from the business for some time, his name remained on the premises' license.

He had no idea his name was still on the license, nor that the shop had been taken over for organised crime.

Insp Harris said he had "effectively lost control of the premises."

Read more:

Dramatic images show car smashed through side of house

Killer, 18, jailed for fatally stabbing 16-year-old who tried to break up a fight

Ex-BBC producer spared jail despite possessing over 800 indecent images of children

Beat manager PC Clare Heard added: "This place was being used as a hub to facilitate criminal activity.

“A lot of the people I saw were from across the whole of Bristol, so it was a hub of activity for the whole of Bristol, not just the local area."

She said the shop had little on the shelves, no backroom stock or staff rota and its hours were “erratic”.

PC Heard said: "There were issues of public nuisance related to drug dealing, and there was recognisable suspicious activity of people coming up on pedal cycles, making exchanges and then cycling away.

“There were a lot of children.

"A lot of vulnerable kids live in that area, and I would quite often see youngsters hanging around with adults who I would recognise as related to OCGs (organised crime groups) and involved in drug dealing."

Police licensing officer Louise Mowbray told the hearing: “We are really concerned about young people frequenting these premises – the vulnerability, exploitation and criminality.

“These reports continue to come in. We have lots of young people associating with drug dealers and organised crime.”

Watch: How the cladding scandal has affected my life

Our goal is to create a safe and engaging place for users to connect over interests and passions. In order to improve our community experience, we are temporarily suspending article commenting