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Intelligence-led investigation success with over £80k of counterfeit cigarettes found

Published: Friday, 17th March 2023

The counterfeit cigarettes were discovered in a self-store unit in the Hanley area.

Intelligence-led investigation success with over £80k of counterfeit cigarettes found

Action has been taken after illegal cigarettes were found at an address in the city.
Working in partnership with Staffordshire Police, a tobacco dog detection team, and Trading Standards, officers have uncovered over 120,000 illegal cigarettes, with a retail value of almost £75k. This activity took place under Operation CeCe, which is a National Trading Standards initiative in partnership with HMRC to tackle illegal tobacco.

The counterfeit cigarettes were discovered in a self-store unit in the Hanley area, together with 430 illegal vapes that have a retail value of close to £6k.

The illegal cigarettes were a mixture of counterfeit Benson and Hedges and Dunhill. The illegal vapes had tank sizes larger than the permitted 2ml.

The items have been seized and the person renting the storage space will now be formally investigated for Trade Marks and Tobacco relating offences.

Cllr Carl Edwards, cabinet member for housing and environment, said: “This is an offence that we take very seriously and we will always take action against anyone found to be involved in the storage, distribution or supply of illegal tobacco.

“This is another success for our Trading Standards team, working alongside their partners at Staffordshire Police and HMRC. Highlighting why partnership work at this scale is important and keeping dangerous, counterfeit and illegal tobacco products out of the public realm.

The message is clear – you will face consequences if you deal in these illegal products.”

Inspector Hayley Eaton, of the Stoke North local policing team, said: “We have achieved this outcome through close partnership working with the local authority who have taken thousands of pounds worth of illegal tobacco off our streets.

“These items can cost the UK billions a year in unpaid tax and we’re committed to working alongside our partners to proactively target those responsible and stop these products from being circulated locally.”

If any residents or businesses have concerns over the supply or sale of illegal tobacco, they can contact the trading standards team on: public.protection@stoke.gov.uk.