Over 1,200 packs of illegal tobacco seized from secret compartments in Rossendale
Thursday, October 8, 2020
Trading Standards officers from Lancashire County Council seized large hauls of illicit cigarettes and tobacco from three shops in Bacup and Haslingden this week.
More than 1,200 packs of the illegal products, which would be worth over £14,000 if sold as genuine, were found in hiding places in two shops. Cavities had been excavated into walls behind electronically-operated sliding wall panels. Packs were found in a vehicle outside the third shop.
Trading Standards inspected the premises with the welcome assistance of Lancashire Police.
The seizures followed intelligence from members of the public and from other enforcement agencies.
During the last twelve months, there have been 20 convictions in cases brought by Trading Standards at local courts for the supply of illicit tobacco.
County Councillor Albert Atkinson, cabinet member for technical services, rural affairs and waste management, said: "These traders had gone to some lengths to hide their haul of counterfeit tobacco. The sophisticated hiding places we are currently finding demonstrate the value of this illegal trade.
"Our officers often find packs stashed away in electronically operated secret compartments under counters and in walls, or hidden in vehicles and store rooms.
"Cheap illicit tobacco is readily available to young people and encourages them to smoke and become addicted.
"The sale and manufacture of illegal tobacco has a negative impact on legitimate local businesses, and on our communities and young people. We are determined to tackle this type of crime."
If you would like to report any businesses you suspect of supplying illicit tobacco, contact Lancashire Trading Standards team via the Citizen's Advice helpline on 0808 223 1133.