Illegal tobacco worth £29k seized from shop and flat in Cheltenham

More than 4,000 packs of cigarettes were found during the search
More than 4,000 packs of cigarettes were found during the search Credit: Gloucestershire County Council

Thousands of packs of cigarettes and illegal tobacco worth £29,000 have been seized from a shop and a flat in Cheltenham.

Gloucestershire County Council’s trading standards officers executed warrants on the premises on Wednesday 7 September.

They found 4,834 packs of cigarettes and 483 pouches of hand rolling tobacco estimated to be worth £29,000.

No duty had been paid on the tobacco, evading £40,950 in tax.

The warrants followed a lengthy investigation into the sale of illegal tobacco from a shop in the town.

Councillor Dave Norman, cabinet member for trading standards, said: "This investigation has shown that this is an organised operation and that illegal tobacco has been stored off site to frustrate enforcement action.

"This shows the lengths that criminals go to so they can flood the high street with illegal tobacco.

"While the tobacco is cheap, much of it is either a counterfeit copy of a known brand or a product made for the black market.

"These products have no legitimate market in the UK and those behind this operation are making large profits at the expense of the local community."

Test purchases showed that illegal tobacco was being sold from the shop, but enforcement visits always failed to identify any significant quantities of illegal tobacco at the premises.

The investigation identified that the shop received deliveries of illegal tobacco several times a day by a man riding a bicycle.

Officers established that he began his journey from a residential address around half a mile away.