Trading standards reveal underfoot illegal stash

 

Gloucestershire County Council’s trading standards have continued their crackdown on illegal tobacco with a successful raid in Eastgate Street.

Trading standards officers carried out a search on a Gloucester city centre shop following intelligence about large quantities of illegal cigarettes and tobacco being sold from the address.

During the search, officers uncovered two under floor hiding places revealing £3260 worth of illegal tobacco. In total 768 packets of cigarettes and 94 pouches of hand rolling tobacco totalling 4.7 kilograms were seized; brands include Mayfair, Regal, Fest, Minsk and Cutters Choice.

The first underground hiding spot was found under a newly built partition wall. Digging through several layers of wood, officers found the hidden items and seized the non duty paid and suspected counterfeit cigarettes and tobacco.

Alongside the tobacco and cigarettes was a small remote control used to operate electric gate motors.  This soon revealed another cunning hiding place – a well constructed unit sunk into the floor, disguised with carpet and raised and lowered electrically.  Another significant cache of illegal tobacco and cigarettes were found inside.

Although these hiding places are not easy or cheap to construct; trading standards are finding similarly constructed concealments in several shops across the city. This shows how determined and organised the people behind the operation are. Trading standards success in seizing hidden tobacco is forcing those involved to become ever more cunning in the steps they take to avoid detection.

Cllr Nigel Moor, cabinet member for fire, planning and infrastructure, said “The sale of illegal tobacco undermines legitimate businesses in Gloucestershire and funds criminal activity.

“This latest example demonstrates the degree of sophistication involved in illegal tobacco sales. However, our officers are no fools and let this be yet another warning – break the law, and we will catch you.”

Andy Hermiston, head of trading standards, said; “The seizure of such a large quantity of illegal cigarettes and tobacco is a major success for the team.

“We want to urge the public to think about the consequences of buying illegal tobacco and to report the sale of illegal cigarettes and tobacco.”

If residents have any concerns about tobacco products being sold at shops in the county, they can contact the Citizens Advice Consumer Service on 03454 04 05 06, or use the ‘report a rogue link’ on the consumers page of the trading standards website www.tradingstandards.gov.uk/glos

If you want help to stop smoking contact Gloucestershire Stop Smoking Service on 0300 421 0040 or visit www.stopsmokingglos.nhs.uk