City leaders are hailing an illegal tobacco raid on targeted premises as ‘another significant blow’ to the supply of fake cigarettes in Stoke-on-Trent.
A large-scale operation involving 16 officers from Stoke-on-Trent City Council’s trading standards team, Staffordshire Police, immigration officials; and a Wagtail tobacco detection dog and handler raided three premises in Stoke and Shelton yesterday (Thursday). It was part of the agencies’ work on Operation CeCe, an ongoing National Trading Standards initiative in partnership with HMRC to tackle illegal tobacco.
Illegal tobacco was seized from two of the stores that was hidden in the premises, consisting of:
- Nearly 2,000 packets of illegal cigarettes
- 6kg of illegal hand-rolling tobacco
- 17 tubes of foreign labelled chewing tobacco
- 56 e-cigarettes without the correct health warnings and tank sizes exceeding the legal maximum.
The illegal goods had a street value of £7,725. In addition, two civil penalty notices were issued by immigration officials on individuals who had no right to work in the UK.
Councillor Carl Edwards, cabinet member for housing and the environment, said: “This was a detailed, thorough investigation by officers working collaboratively across agencies to protect residents and communities and to stop criminals supplying illegal tobacco in our city. The raids were based on detailed intelligence between agencies and we welcome all reports from residents who have concerns.
“It is the latest in a series of raids to disrupt the supply chain in illegal tobacco and follows the successful prosecution of criminals in October for largest single seizure of fake cigarettes in the city, with a retail value of £500,000.”
PC Dan Hill at Staffordshire Police, said: “We worked with Stoke-on-Trent City Council Trading Standards and the UK Border Agency officers to seize the cigarettes and tobacco. We’re committed to working in partnership to stopping this illegal trade.”
“We will always take action against anyone found to be involved in the storage, distribution or supply of illegal tobacco. It’s another great result for us and also working alongside Stoke=on-Trent City Council Trading Standards and the UK Border Agency. The message is clear – you will face consequences if you deal in these illegal products.”
Wendy Martin, Director, National Trading Standards, said: “The trade in illegal tobacco harms local communities and affects honest businesses operating within the law. The National Trading Standards initiative in partnership with HRMC is playing a significant role in disrupting this illicit trade and is helping to take illegal tobacco products off the streets.”
Councillor Edwards said: “Our trading standards teams are there to support and protect residents and businesses from criminals such as these. We take that responsibility seriously and will not tolerate those who break the law.”
If any residents or businesses have concerns over the supply or sale of illegal tobacco, they can contact the trading standards team on: firstname.lastname@example.org.
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