North East Lincolnshire Council

Illicit tobacco with a street value of £71,136 seized by trading standards officers

A huge haul of illicit tobacco and cigarettes has been uncovered by North East Lincolnshire Council’s trading standards team during an operation in Grimsby and Cleethorpes last week.

Trading standards officers working with specially trained sniffer dogs found enough illicit cigarettes and rolling tobacco to fill two vans as they searched two shops and two flats in Grimsby and a flat in Cleethorpes, where the majority of the product was found.

Officers found 280.45kg of rolling tobacco and 131,320 cigarettes with a total street value of £71,136 and would cost £167,718 to buy legitimately.

The find includes tobacco and cigarettes suspected of being counterfeit, and other non-duty paid products which cannot be legally sold in the UK.

Sniffer dogs provided by BWY Canine, helped uncover the contraband and Trading Standards officers were supported by Humberside Police and Home Office Immigration Enforcement.

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 50 raids on shop premises and homes suspected of selling black market cigarettes and tobacco.

The total seized since September 2014 now stands at 598,408 cigarettes and 633.89kg of tobacco.

Cllr Matthew Patrick, portfolio holder for finance, resources and inclusion at North East Lincolnshire Council said:

“Yesterday’s find shows how our officers are using intelligence to target premises suspected of dealing in illicit tobacco.

“Fewer people are prepared to turn a blind eye to this criminal trade and fewer people are buying cigarettes and tobacco from illicit dealers.

“Sellers rarely care who they sell to, so it’s easier for children to get their hands on cigarettes and get addicted.”

Trading standards manager Neil Clark added:

“You can make a difference to help keep more illegal tobacco off the streets by reporting it. We need to keep the pressure up on those who sell it.

“The illegal tobacco trade has strong links with crime and criminal gangs, so many of the people smuggling, distributing and selling it are involved in drug dealing, money laundering, people trafficking and even terrorism.

“More and more people over the past few years have decided enough is enough and are providing information to stop local criminals selling and distributing illegal 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 on 01472 326299 (option 3) in confidence.

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