North East Lincolnshire Council’s Trading Standards team have uncovered a haul of illicit rolling tobacco and cigarettes during an operation in Grimsby.
The Council’s Trading Standards officers, working with specially trained sniffer dogs, found the illicit products as they searched 3 shops and 1 flat in Freeman Street, Grimsby, and a further flat on the Willows Estate.
Officers found 11.6kg of rolling tobacco and 32,700 cigarettes with a total street value of £8405 and would cost £20,172 to buy legitimately.
The discovery includes tobacco and cigarettes suspected of being counterfeit, and other non-duty paid products which cannot be legally sold in the UK.
The haul included the discovery of some red packet Jin Ling cigarettes, which are thought to be among the first to have been found in the UK.
Sniffer dogs provided by BWY Canine, helped uncover the contraband and Trading Standards officers were supported by Humberside Police and Immigration Compliance Officers.
The raid is the latest in a series of high profile seizures of illicit tobacco products since a crackdown was launched in September 2014.
In that time, trading standards officers have carried out more than 70 raids on shop premises and homes suspected of selling black market cigarettes and tobacco.
The total seized since September 2014 now stands at almost 650,000 cigarettes and 665 kg of tobacco.
Cllr Ray Oxby, Leader of North East Lincolnshire Council said:
“This discovery is just the latest in a continuing operation by Trading Standards to sniff out any such illicit tobacco products in our borough.
“These products do not meet safety standards and are putting lives at risk.
“Our intelligence tells us that fewer people are prepared to be a part of this criminal trade, and more people are buying their cigarettes legitimately, or giving up the habit for good.”
Trading standards manager Neil Clark added: “Each raid that we carry out disrupts the supply chain.
“With the support of the public, we can bring an end to this trade. People can make a difference by reporting any suspicions they might have to Trading Standards. We need to keep the pressure up on those who sell it.
“The illicit tobacco trade has been linked to organised crime and criminal gangs, so many of the people involved in smuggling, distributing and selling these products are also involved in drug dealing, money laundering, people trafficking and even terrorism.
“People are turning against this trade and are providing some very valuable information to help put a stop to local criminals selling and distributing illicit tobacco.
“If you have information about any people or businesses selling counterfeit or illicit tobacco products in your community, please let us know.”
Report it to North East Lincolnshire Council trading standards at www.nelincs.gov.uk/report-it/ or on 01472 326299 (option 3) in confidence.