Illicit cigarettes, vapes and tobacco worth more than £16,000 have been seized from three shops and a car in County Durham, stated recent reports.
Durham Constabulary and Durham County Council’s Trading Standards executed warrants at four convenience stores in Spennymoor, Bishop Auckland and the surrounding area, acting on intelligence given by members of the public. 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, 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 were seized. The combined value of these items on the legitimate market is estimated to be more than £16,000, stated local reports.
Cash totalling £3,926.06, suspected to be the proceeds of crime, was also seized from one of the premises.
Gary Carr, strategic regulation manager at Durham County Council, 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.”