Trading standards officers from Cheshire East Council have seized cigarettes, vodka and tobacco worth more than £17,000 during a swoop on illegal sellers.
More than 25,000 illegal cigarettes, about 800 bottles of vodka and 5.5kg of hand-rolling tobacco were uncovered during raids on properties in Crewe yesterday (Wednesday, December 7).
Officers and sniffer dogs discovered concealed stashes of tobacco at nine premises with products hidden in various places, including under floorboards and in storage units in shops.
Operation ‘Ignite’ follows on from the intelligence-led ‘Operation Henry 2’, which seized illegal tobacco products valued at more than £9,000 in March this year.
Councillor Paul Bates, cabinet member for communities and health, said: “People who deal in illegal tobacco are more likely to encourage others, especially children and young adults, to smoke.
“All tobacco is harmful but the illegal black market in tobacco, and in particular the availability of cheap cigarettes, makes it harder for smokers to quit and remain smoke free.
“We are an enforcing council and our trading standards officers are working hard to keep these illegal products off the streets and are cracking down on the businesses and individuals that flout the law.
“Detection dogs can find tobacco and cigarettes in the most unlikely places and in addition to having their stock confiscated, offenders could face unlimited fines and up to 10 years in prison.”
Anyone with information about illegal tobacco can call the ‘tackling illegal tobacco’ hotline on 0300 999 0000 or report online at: www.keep-it-out.co.uk