Half a million illegal cigarettes seized Wexham and Flintshire in joint operation
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A joint operation to disrupt against illegal tobacco sales took place in Wrexham and Flintshire last week that saw more than 500,000 cigarettes and quantities of illegal vapes being seized.
Officers from Trading Standards, Immigration Enforcement, Intellectual Property Office and North Wales Police took part in the operation, supported by tobacco detection dogs from WagtailUK.
Shops and storage locations were searched in both areas, with the biggest single seizure of around half a million cigarettes taking place at a house in Flint.
More than £10,000 in cash, and number of laptops and phones were also recovered, in addition to smaller quantities of tobacco and illegal disposable vapes from retail outlets in Wrexham and across Flintshire.
Rucksacks storing illegal items and being carried outside shops in Wrexham were also seized, while Immigration Enforcement assisted with checks and gained valuable intelligence.
As a result of the operation, detailed intelligence was gathered about supply vehicles involving illegal tobacco and evidence of concealments will be distributed to Border Force and HMRC for circulation to ports authorities.
The operation aimed to disrupt against illegal tobacco, which is distributed and supplied through organised criminal networks, which is often linked to other criminal activity and brings crime into local communities.
North Wales Police Chief Inspector Steve Roberts said: “This co-ordinated operation demonstrates the value of multi-agency and cross authority partnership work to combat serious and organised crime in our area.
“Illegal tobacco, supplied through organised criminal networks, is often linked to other criminal activity, which is why it’s important we continue to disrupt against the illegal tobacco product business.
“I hope local communities, who we rely on for information and intelligence, are reassured by the results of the action that took place last week.”
Richard Powell, Trading Standards Manager at Flintshire County Council, said: “The large seizure from the private house is significant. It will have been the central storage for distribution to a number of outlets across the county and far beyond and loss of this quantity of tobacco will have an impact on availability of illegal product.
“It is really important that we keep up the pressure on the illegal tobacco market, and the results of these raids demonstrate how effective joint operations can be.
“As well the large quantity of illegal tobacco recovered, officers seized illegal vape products, over £10,000 in cash and number of laptops and phones.”
Roger Mapleson, Trading Standards Lead at Wrexham Council, and Lead Officer for Tobacco for Trading Standards Wales added: “Smoking kills over 5000 people in Wales every year and half of all long term smokers will die as a direct consequence of their habit.
“Illegal tobacco is cigarettes or rolling tobacco that has been smuggled and where no duty has been paid. This means it can be sold for less than half the price of legitimate duty paid tobacco, creating a significant problem in our communities.
“It makes it much easier for children to access tobacco and acquire a lifelong addiction and it makes it much harder for existing smokers to quit.”
If you’re aware of illegal tobacco being sold in your area, please report it in confidence at NO IFS. NO BUTTS here - https://noifs-nobutts.co.uk/
You can also report it anonymously via the independent charity, CrimeStoppers.