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    £30,000 worth of illegal tobacco seized in Walsall

    Image by Walsall Council

    Around £30,000 worth of illegal cigarettes, tobacco and disposable vapes were seized from traders across Walsall in January 2024 as part of a crackdown on the illicit tobacco trade.

    Walsall Trading Standards in partnership with West Midlands Police and a specialist search dog team, searched four retail premises. This activity took place under Operation CeCe, a National Trading Standards initiative in partnership with His Majesty’s Revenue and Customs (HMRC) to tackle illegal tobacco. The traders were visited by the Trading Standards team and the police following intelligence that illegal tobacco was being sold.

    The seizures included over 24,000 cigarettes, 5kg of illegal hand rolling tobacco, 54 pots of unlabelled shisha and 644 illegal disposable vapes. Many of the disposable vapes seized contained 10,000 puffs (the legal limit of disposable vapes is approximately 600 puffs).

    Seven purpose-built, sophisticated concealments were found within all the shops visited by Trading Standards. Illegal tobacco, cigarettes and vapes were hidden within shop counters, in hidden hatches in shop walls and in unused gaming machines in one shop storeroom. Many of the hidden concealments were held closed by an electro-magnet system.

    In two shops, coffee grains had been sprinkled inside the concealments in an attempt to mask the scent of tobacco from the detection dogs. One male was also found to be working without the right to work and was referred to Immigration. 

    “ This is another huge seizure for our Trading Standards team, West Midlands Police and sniffer dogs Cooper and Griff. I would like to praise colleagues for their involvement in getting these illicit products off our street.

    The sale of illegal tobacco and vapes fund organised criminal activity. It causes anti-social behaviour and damage to our communities in Walsall, which will not be tolerated. We will continue to take enforcement action against tobacco and vapes found on the illegal market and work with our partner organisations to ensure this type of crime is prevented in Walsall. “Councillor Garry Perry, Deputy Leader and Portfolio Holder for Resilient Communities
    Walsall Council.

    “ The trade in illegal tobacco harms local communities and affects honest businesses operating within the law. Having removed 27 million illegal cigarettes, 7,500kg of hand rolling tobacco and almost 175kg of shisha products from sale, the National Trading Standards initiative in partnership with HMRC continues to successfully disrupt this illicit trade. “Lord Michael Bichard, Chair at National Trading Standards

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