Illegal tobacco with a high street value of £6,400 has been seized in the latest raids carried out by Derbyshire County Council to crack down on shops suspected of selling counterfeit goods.
The council’s trading standards officers joined forces with Derbyshire police and Home Office immigration officers to carry out successful enforcement operations at a shop in Ilkeston and one in Swadlincote this week (Tuesday 29 April).
A total of 8,660 cigarettes and 164 pouches (8.2kg) of tobacco – with a high street value of approximately £6,400 – were recovered during the raids.
The majority of the goods were located in hidden storage areas, including false panels behind shelving and under a sink unit, and were discovered by sniffer dogs from specialist dog training and handling company Wagtail UK limited.
Police arrested three men who have been questioned and bailed pending further enquiries. Two shop-workers in Ilkeston were found by immigration officers to be illegal workers.
It was the latest joint action in an ongoing enforcement campaign to tackle illicit tobacco sales in the county.
Derbyshire County Council Cabinet Member for Health and Communities Councillor Dave Allen said: “We’re sending out a clear message to shopkeepers that we will not tolerate illegal trading and we’ll continue working with the police to crack down on it.
"We're standing up for legitimate local traders whose businesses are being damaged by these shops selling illicit tobacco cheaply and consumers who face increased risks from counterfeit goods which are not checked or regulated.”
As part the on-going crackdown trading standards officers and police have carried out 20 raids on premises across the county over the past year, seizing a total of 884,000 illegal cigarettes and 794,833 kg of illegal tobacco with a high street value of almost £500,000.
Detective Inspector Henry Dick of Derbyshire police said: "We’re keen to continue to support county council trading standards officers in their vital investigations into the sale of illicit and counterfeit tobacco.
“Their work in this area is essential to help us combat organised criminality which is obviously very lucrative for those concerned and we’ll continue to offer any support that will disrupt this activity.”
Anyone with information about the sale of illegal tobacco should call Citizens' Advice Consumer Service on 08454 040506 or Crimestoppers on 0800 555111.