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Raid on local shops uncovers £200k haul of illicit goods

11:45 am, Friday, 15th March 2024 - 1 month ago

Enforcement

TRADING Standards officers visited four premises yesterday morning using search and seizure powers under the Consumer Rights Act, and uncovered a haul of illicit cigarettes, tobacco and vapes.

The visits were part of Operation CeCe, a national campaign involving Trading Standards and HM Revenue and Customs. The products seized during the visits are illegal to sell in the UK and are though to have had a legitimate value of some £200,000.

Officers from North East Lincolnshire Council’s Trading Standards team were accompanied by Humberside Police Community and Response Teams, Home Office Immigration and Humberside Police Child Sexual Exploitation Officers.

The teams of officers inspected two shops and one empty unit on Freeman Street in Grimsby, and two further shops on Grimsby Road in Cleethorpes.

Among the seized goods were a number bags of illegal vapes which are ten times the legal limit .

By law, disposable vapes must have an internal reservoir of nicotine infused liquid no larger than 2ml, all of the seized items were far in excess of that, with some having as much as 25ml of liquid.

Over 1,000 pouches of tobacco along with over 200,000 illicit cigarettes . In the UK, the legal limit for nicotine-infused vapes is 2ml, and some of the products found during these visits contained 20ml.

At one premises which was supposed to be unoccupied, officers discovered a ‘treasure trove’ of illicit cigarettes and tobacco.

Councillor Ron Shepherd, portfolio holder for safer and stronger communities at North East Lincolnshire Council, said:

“This is a real coup for the team and I’m really pleased with the results.

“I know that naysayers out there will ask why we’re seizing cigarettes and tobacco. The reality is that these cigarettes often do not confirm to UK laws, meaning that they do not self-extinguish if left unattended increasing the risk of house fires. In addition to this, purchases of these products support organised crime.

“These products are also smuggled into the UK without paying tax. That tax should be going towards services like the NHS, but instead criminals are profiting from selling dangerous cheap cigarettes to local residents – occasionally to children too.

“Our team rely on intelligence from local residents, so if you have any information about the sale of illicit cigarettes, vapes and tobacco in North East Lincolnshire, please get in touch with Trading Standards.

“I’m pleased that our team have seized this haul and I look forward to seeing the culprits pay.”

Inspector Matt Stringer, Neighbourhood Policing Inspector for Grimsby East said: “As part of the operation, our team assisted North East Lincolnshire Council to help tackle illicit cigarettes and tobacco within North East Lincolnshire.

“My team and I remain committed to making our communities safer, and by working with partner agencies, as part of operations like this, it means we are able to do this and remove criminality from our area.”

Officers will now build a case for prosecution using the evidence that they’ve collected from each premises[MF4] . Anyone prosecuted and convicted of selling or supplying illegal tobacco can face penalties including up to 10 years in prison and an unlimited fine.

If you have information relating to the sale of illicit cigarettes and tobacco in North East Lincolnshire, contact Trading Standards. Visit www.nelincs.gov.uk/report-it.

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