Thousands of counterfeit cigarettes, valued at around £10,000, have been sniffed out and seized in a raid led by Telford & Wrekin Council.
Trading standards officers recovered 12,000 cigarettes along with a quantity of illegal vapes and 40 one-litre bottles of unlabelled homemade wine in the swoop.
Convenience shops at five locations across the borough were targeted as a result of intelligence gathered relating to the sale of illegal goods. The operation was carried out earlier this month supported by West Mercia Police and the council’s night-time economy team.
Highly trained sniffer dogs detected illicit goods at four of the premises. Cooper, a Labrador, and cocker spaniel YoYo, followed their nose to track down the goods, even picking up the scent of cigarettes stashed behind a fake wall.
Councillor Richard Overton, (Labour) Deputy Leader and Cabinet Member for Housing, Enforcement and Transport said:
“This successful seizure is a direct result of us being a co-operative council and working closely with partner agencies. It is a clear example of how the council is committed to following up any information passed on about the potential sale of illegal goods.
“Those who attempt to sell fake cigarettes, vapes and alcohol are putting people at risk because we don’t know what ingredients are in them. We also know that the profits from this illicit trade fund organised crime and people trafficking rings. That is why we are on the side of law-abiding residents and businesses and will take action to crack down on this scourge.
“Our officers are continuing to gather the evidence in this case and people can be assured appropriate action will be taken.”
PC Sharon Major, from Telford’s Problem Solving Hub at West Mercia Police, said:
“This warrant saw a significant amount of counterfeit tobacco, alcohol and vaping products seized by our colleagues at Telford & Wrekin Council.
“Operations like this prove that working closely with our partners we are able to prevent criminal enterprises continuing their distribution of illegal products such as tobacco and alcohol.”