Record haul of illegal tobacco seized in Forest raid
Gloucestershire County Council made one of the largest seizures of illegal tobacco in the county last week.
Trading standards and police seized illegal tobacco worth over £21,000 during a raid on a residential address in the Forest of Dean on Thursday 2nd March.
Earlier investigations by officers had identified a connection between the address and a nearby shop, known to sell illegal tobacco to customers. The shop had previously been storing illegal tobacco in vehicles to avoid detection – however this residential address is believed to be the main storage area.
In total, trading standards officers seized 2,260 packets of 20 cigarettes (45,200 cigarette sticks) and 1256 50g pouches of hand rolling tobacco (62.8kg). The tobacco was found on the floor of the lounge of the premises in boxes, bin bags and laundry bags. No effort had been made to conceal its presence.
Around £1,600 in cash was also found at the address, and was seized under proceeds of crime laws.
None of the tobacco found carried the required health warnings indicating that it had been smuggled into the UK to avoid duty. In addition, the Mayfair branded cigarettes are believed to be counterfeit copies. Counterfeit cigarettes are of lower quality, meaning that customers cannot be assured of the ingredients.
Information obtained by trading standards indicates that those involved in this criminal activity are not based in this county and give addresses hundreds of miles from Gloucester indicating that this is part of a wide ranging organised criminal activity.
Cllr Nigel Moor, cabinet member for trading standards said, “This represents one of the largest seizures of illegal tobacco in the county and is a testament to the excellent work by our officers.
“Selling, or possessing for sale, illegal tobacco is a criminal offence and we’re committed to continuing our crack down in Gloucestershire.
“Trading standards treats this criminal activity very seriously and will continue investigations that protect the honest traders who face unfair competition.”