Walsall Trading Standards, West Midlands Police and 3 highly trained tobacco detector dogs named Scamp, Yoyo and Cooper recently sniffed out and seized over 48,000 counterfeit cigarettes from retail stores in Walsall. Further contraband was also found in a vehicle, with more illicit tobacco found hidden in storage at a property nearby.
Walsall Trading Standards removed 2,415 packs of cigarettes from the locations, which if genuine would have a purchase value of nearly £25,000. Officers also seized 233 pouches (11,650 grams) of illegal hand rolling tobacco, with a street value of an additional £4000 pounds.
The eager tobacco sniffer dogs quickly go to work and located the hidden tobacco in car boots, holdalls and storerooms. In one store, the cigarettes found there had been smuggled into the country as electrical goods, in order to fool customs officers.
Cash to the value of £6,000, was also found dumped on waste ground as one of the criminals tried to make a getaway. The man trying to escape, was also found to be in possession of an offensive weapon, in the form of CS gas. Police arrested him and his home was searched –as a result nearly 18,000 cigarettes were found.
Councillor Garry Perry, Portfolio Holder for Public Protection in Walsall said:
“Well done Scamp, Yoyo and Cooper and well done to all the Trading Standards and Police officers involved”.
“Illegal tobacco is an absolute menace, it wrecks the health of many and as it’s untaxed, takes money away from important public services and also affects the livelihoods of legitimate traders. It is clear by the sheer amount of illegal tobacco found and the sophisticated hiding places used that this is not simply a man with a van bringing a few extra packs in on the side. It is a full scale operation by organised criminals who use the profits to help finance even more serious crimes such as people trafficking for prostitution and modern day slavery, money laundering, and even terrorism. We want this scourge driven out of Walsall and it’s the shared intelligence from you that helps us get the evidence we need to see these people in court.”
Trading Standards investigations into the recent raids and illegal cigarette sales are ongoing.
You can report the sale of illegal tobacco to Trading Standards anonymously. Call 0808 223 1133 or email email@example.com