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Investigations launched following seizure of illegal tobacco

Published: Monday, 21st June 2021

A total of £2,500 worth of illegal tobacco has been confiscated from premises across Stoke-on-Trent.

The haul was removed from shops in Burslem, Bentilee and Abbey Hulton following a joint operation by Stoke-on-Trent City Council’s trading standards team, Staffordshire Police and Immigration Enforcement, accompanied by a tobacco dog detection team from Wagtails UK.

Three premises were visited during the crackdown under Operation CeCe which is a National Trading Standards initiative in partnership with HMRC to tackle illegal tobacco. Illegal tobacco was found at all three premises. In total, 2,740 cigarettes and 3kg of hand rolling tobacco were found concealed on the premises. In addition, one individual was also identified as having no legal right to work in the UK. Investigations are now under way.

Councillor Carl Edwards, Cabinet Member for Housing and Environment said: “The trade in illegal tobacco creates a cheap source of tobacco for children and young people and harms businesses that are trading legally. It also undermines all of the good work being done to stop people smoking and the illegal tobacco trade more often than not has strong links to other criminal activity.

“We will always take action against anyone found to be involved in the storage, distribution or supply of illegal tobacco and full investigations have now been launched into these seizures. The amount confiscated follows a pattern of small quantities being found on premises. It’s another great result for our Trading Standards team, working alongside their partners at Staffordshire Police and Immigration Enforcement. The message is clear – you will face consequences if you deal in these illegal products.”

Sergeant Paul Housley from Staffordshire Police’s Neighbourhood Tasking Team said: “We take the trading of illegal goods incredibly seriously and will continue to support our colleagues within Stoke-on-Trent City Council’s trading standards team in cracking down on this type of activity.

“This partnership work is vital in ensuring we stop counterfeit goods from reaching our streets and from harming our communities.”