A search dog leads officers to a large secret stash of illegal tobacco
A specially trained search dog has played a major role in helping officers find thousands of pounds of illegal tobacco stashed away in retail shops.
Cooper led officers from Staffordshire County Council’s Trading Standards service to the stashes during raids at six independent retail premises in Stafford and Cannock.
36,720 illegal cigarettes and 14.55kg of illegal hand rolling tobacco with a street value of around £9,000 were seized.
The raids were carried out as part of Operation CeCe, a National Trading Standards initiative in partnership with HMRC to tackle illegal tobacco.
Victoria Wilson, Cabinet Member with responsibility for Trading Standards at Staffordshire County Council said: “The sale of illicit and counterfeit tobacco products is a crime that not only damages local communities and people’s health but also harms legitimate businesses.
“These latest raids prove that the service will continue to take the necessary action where they know it is going on.
"All tobacco is harmful but illegal tobacco makes it easier for children to start smoking and get hooked. Furthermore, sellers also rarely care who they sell to, so I would urge anyone with information about the sale of such products to get in touch with the team.”
More than five million illegal cigarettes have already been seized from local retail outlets across England and Wales in the first six months of this year as part of Operation CeCe.
In the UK, it is estimated that about 1 in 10 of all cigarettes and half of all hand-rolling tobacco are not duty paid.
The illegal trade in tobacco also has strong links to organised crime and illicit tobacco can have a devastating effect on health.
Anyone with information about the sale of counterfeit tobacco and cigarettes in Staffordshire should call the Fight the Fakes hotline on 01785 330356.