During a covert illicit tobacco operation yesterday (09 September) Walsall Trading Standards in partnership with the police, got more than they bargained for when detection dogs sniffed out a huge haul of cannabis – which is thought to have a street value of up £200,000. As part of the pre-planned Trading Standards sting, several other premises thought to be trading in illicit tobacco and dodgy vapes were also raided and illegal tobacco and ‘bang vapes’ were also seized from two shops. However, for legal reasons these locations can’t be disclosed.
The drugs were discovered in locked metal containers at a location in the East of the borough. Highly trained detection dogs Yoyo and Scamp sprang into action at the targeted site and circled three large storage boxes that clearly contained ‘contents of interest’. However, it soon became clear to all the officers involved that this was no easy job and a specialist locksmith was called upon to find a way in through the boxed walls of steel. Trading Standards then discovered a number of large and ‘ready to buy’ bags of dried cannabis, all of which were removed by West Midlands Police. In another raid at a targeted site, detection dog Scamp sniffed out a big stash of illegal cigarettes hidden in a sophisticated hideaway directly behind a hand drier in a toilet. The drier was closed with an electro magnet but when forced open it revealed a void in the wall - which contained around 6,000 illegal cigarettes and some hand rolling tobacco.
Trading Standards also seized illegal disposable vape bars and found ‘Bang’ vapes on sale in one store. These products are often fruit flavoured to make them more attractive to children and vaping just one disposable vape is the equivalent of smoking over 100 cigarettes.
The partnership sting, which was a continuation of ‘Operation CeCe’, is part of a National Trading Standards and HMRC initiative to tackle illegal tobacco.
Lord Toby Harris, Chair of National Trading Standards said:
“The trade in illegal tobacco harms local communities and affects honest businesses operating within the law. The National Trading Standards initiative in partnership with HRMC is playing a significant role in disrupting this illicit trade and is helping to take illegal tobacco products off the streets.”
Councillor Garry Perry, Deputy Leader of Walsall Council with a portfolio for Resilient Communities added:
“Well done all and Bravo Scamp and Yoyo. My simple message to those criminals who think to trade in drugs, illicit tobacco and dodgy vapes, is simple - it does not matter how clever you think you are - you cannot outwit these dogs, or Trading Standards and the Police.”
“Make no mistake these type of products which are bought on the illegal market are a serious threat to health. Trading of this nature often has links to criminal activity like human trafficking, drug dealing and even terrorism.”
“Walsall Council will continue to take a zero tolerance approach to the production and sale of illicit tobacco and illegal vapes and use every enforcement action there is to shut it down.
For further information on illicit tobacco and how to report it please visit the council website:
Trading Standards can be contacted by calling 0808 223 1133 or emailing firstname.lastname@example.org
Notes to editors
- Walsall Trading Standards and Police seized £200K of cannabis, 6,000 illegal cigarettes and a quantity of illegal disposable vape bars during the Operation CeCe sting.
- Police investigations are ongoing.