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Trading Standards seize massive haul of illicit cigarettes

by Steve Beasant on 9 September, 2015

A massive consignment of illicit cigarettes has been uncovered by North East Lincolnshire Council’s Trading Standards team during an operation in Grimsby

Trading Standards officers working with specially trained sniffer dogs found an estimated 300,000 illicit cigarettes and 150kg tobacco as they searched six premises, including a flat and a house, in the Freeman Street area of Grimsby.

The huge haul is the largest seizure Trading Standards have made in the borough since they began a crackdown on illicit tobacco sales a year ago.

Most of it – more than 250,000 cigarettes and 130kg of tobacco – was discovered in a first floor flat above a shop.

To give an idea of the scale – almost 90,000 cigarettes and 82.5kg of rolling tobacco have been seized by Trading Standards during the past 12 months. Yesterday’s find was about three times as much.

The estimated street value of the illicit cigarettes found yesterday is about £80,000 and to buy them legitimately would cost £200,500.

Sniffer dogs provided by BWY Canine, helped uncover the hidden contraband and Trading Standards officers were supported by Humberside Police as part of Operation Nightshade.

The raid is the latest in a number of high profile seizures of illicit tobacco products in the borough. The seizure included some products which are suspected of being counterfeit, and other non-duty paid products which cannot be legally sold in the UK.

Operation Nightshade is an on-going initiative in North East Lincolnshire that aims to crack down on the supply of illicit tobacco and is the result of a partnership between North East Lincolnshire Council, North East Lincolnshire Health and Well Being Board and the North East Lincolnshire Tobacco Alliance.

Neil Clark, community protection manager responsible for Trading Standards at NELC, added:

“Today’s actions have taken a massive quantity of illicit tobacco products off the streets of Grimsby, but we know there’s more out there.

“If you have information about any people or businesses selling counterfeit or illicit tobacco products in your community, please let us know.

“Report it to North East Lincolnshire Council Trading Standards on 01472 326299 (option 3). Alternatively, ring Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111 or complete the online form at”

It comes days after a former shop owner has been fined £4,000 and ordered to pay £685 in costs and charges after Trading Standards officers found illicit cigarettes and tobacco during three separate visits to premises he owned.

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