Walsall Trading Standards seize £120,000 of illicit tobacco

  • 20 January 2020
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Walsall Trading Standards seize £120,000 of illicit tobacco

Walsall Trading Standards, HMRC (Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs) and West Midlands Police raided six separate locations in Caldmore Walsall during a recent crackdown on illicit tobacco in the borough.  Up to thirty officers and trained detection dogs took part in the sting - sniffing out and seizing cigarettes from premises suspected of trading illegally. The illicit tobacco had an estimated retail value of up to £120 000 and would have sold on the streets for £40,000.

The three-hour operation quickly yielded what officers believe to be fake brands of illicit tobacco. Walsall Trading Standards officers removed dozens of tightly packed cases of Golden Virginia and Amber Leaf tobacco from several locations and raided cars near to the premises.  After forcing the car boots, Trading Standards found them rammed with cases and sleeves of popular named brands including Marlboro Red and L & M cigarettes. A number of potentially unsafe children’s toys were also seized during the operation, as well as bags and boxes of antibiotic medicines that had originated from outside of the United Kingdom.

Walsall Trading Standards will continue to work with West Midlands Police and partner agencies to gather evidence with a view to prosecution.

Councillor Garry Perry Portfolio Holder for Community Safety at Walsall Council commented: “Well done to all involved. This is an excellent start in disrupting the activities of these criminals and we will do everything in our power to bring them to account. Illicit and counterfeit tobacco is an absolute scourge to communities and a real threat to the health of Walsall. Non payment of tax on illicit tobacco  also means less money goes to vital public services. The illegal trade seriously undermines our efforts to reduce smoking in the borough and protect children and communities from the harmful effects of tobacco.  We are determined to crack down on this menace."

-ENDS-

NOTES TO EDITORS

  • Trading Standards work with HMRC, Police, specialist sniffer dogs, Border Agency and Public Health to tackle illicit tobacco as well as raise public awareness of the health and criminal aspects of this illegal industry. 
  • Illicit tobacco and cigarettes are sold cheaply so they become more readily available to young people.
  • The illegal products often come from unknown manufacturers where there is no quality control or guarantee that contaminates are not in the products. The illegal products also have foreign or incomplete labelling which means that the safety messages included on the genuine products are not available to the users. 
  • Trading Standards also carry out test purchases when they receive information concerning the sale of tobacco products to persons under 18 years of age.

Proceeds of Crime

  • Huge amounts of money can be generated from  illegal tobacco to fund criminal activity including money laundering, people smuggling and prostitution.
  • As this income is undeclared, it can reduce money available to fund public services.
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