Posted on Wednesday 13 September 2023
Illicit cigarettes and tobacco worth over £16,000 have been seized from three shops and a car in County Durham.
Durham County Council’s Trading Standards carried out a crackdown operation in Spennymoor, Bishop Auckland and the surrounding area.
Using intelligence it received, the council executed warrants at four convenience stores with the support of Durham Constabulary.
As a result, the council seized illicit cigarettes, tobacco, and electronic cigarettes (vapes) from three of the premises, as well as from a vehicle suspected to be linked to the fourth.
In total, the council seized 298 packs of cigarettes, worth £1,490 to illegal traders; 11.5kg of hand-rolling tobacco to the value of £2,760; and 535 vapes valued at £5,350.
The combined value of these items on the legitimate market is estimated to be over £16,000.
Cash totalling £3,926.06, suspected to be the proceeds of crime, was also seized from one of the premises.
Gary Carr, Durham County Council’s strategic regulation manager, said: “Illegal cigarettes, tobacco, and vapes have serious negative impacts on our communities. Not only does this attract crime to neighbourhoods and make it easier for children to access age-restricted products, it also adversely affects compliant businesses by taking away their revenue.
“The illicit trade has links to organised crime, including people trafficking and terrorism. It also takes away tax revenues that are needed to support public services.
“Whilst we are taking significant action to crack down on the sale of illicit products, we need the public’s help and intelligence to identify places that are selling these items. We would encourage anyone who suspects they know about the sale of illegal products to let us know. We would also appeal to consumers not to buy illicit products and think about the impact that their spending can have.”
Temporary Inspector, Victoria Ord, of Bishop Auckland Neighbourhood Policing Team, said: “The team at Bishop Auckland are keen to stamp out illegal activity of this kind, and will continue to support our partner agencies, responding to concerns raised and directly impacting our communities.
“Please report suspicious activity to us via 101 or Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.”
Information about illicit tobacco can be given anonymously, either by calling 0300 999 000 or visiting www.keep-it-out.co.uk
The public can also follow the work of Durham County Council’s Trading Standards team on Facebook at www.facebook.com/DurhamTS