Smoking out counterfeit tobacco

Sniffer dog handler Helen Evans, PC Matt Hornby, PC Jamie Robinson and a trading standards officer (face obscured).

Sniffer dog handler Helen Evans, PC Matt Hornby, PC Jamie Robinson and a trading standards officer (face obscured).

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TRADERS dealing in illicit tobacco were today warned: ‘We are on to you.’

More than 1,000 packets of counterfeit tobacco were seized after sniffer dogs hunted them out during a series of surprise raids.

Items found concealed at a property.

Items found concealed at a property.

Officers have now warned there are more busts to come.

The raids were launched at shops on Central Drive and Lytham Road, in South Shore by Blackpool Council’s Trading Standards department on Tuesday, and department head Tim Coglan said: “Blackpool Council has an ultra-robust stance on law enforcement especially when it comes to protecting the health of its residents.

“There are a number of leads that are already under active investigation and surveillance operations are ongoing.

“This will lead, in due course, to further raids in conjunction with our partners the police and the individuals concerned will be reported for prosecution.”

The tobacco was seized from a shop on Central Drive and was a mixture of smuggled and counterfeit Jin Ling, Marlboro and Amber Leaf.

A 30-year-old man was arrested and has now been reported for summons for the offence of possession/transport/display of unmarked tobacco products otherwise than as prescribed.

And Mr Coglan added: “It is a clear warning to retailers and wholesalers not to handle such merchandise unless they are sure of its source and authenticity.

“Obviously if we find there are large amounts being uncovered not only will individuals be prosecuted, the authority will be looking for proceeds of crime recovery as well.”

Five shops were visited in total, three on Central Drive and two on Lytham Road.

And despite the fact illicit tobacco was only found in one place, the officer who led Tuesday’s raids – who does not want to be named to protect his identity – said: “The operation was a success, especially because we found a concealment like we did, it shows we are on to them.”

Click here to read more on this subject:

CIGARETTES SEIZED IN RAIDS ON SHOPS

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