Huge stashes of illegal tobacco have been seized from shops across Darlington during raids by Operation CeCe, a National Trading Standards initiative, in partnership with HM Revenue & Customs to tackle illegal tobacco.
According to local reports, more than 46,000 cigarettes, 14.5kg of rolling tobacco and 218 illegal vapes were seized from shops Darlington in a single day of action on Sept 27.
Six stores were searched by a trading standards team from Darlington Council, who were assisted by Durham Police and three tobacco detection dogs during the operation. Over the course of their visit, the team uncovered thousands of illicit products.
Shaun Trevor, who led the operation on behalf of Darlington Council’s trading standards said that they have received complaints around the sale of illegal cigarettes and tobacco within Darlington.
“Whilst visiting shops we also looked at other emerging issues such as illegal vapes which are often sold to children. We have removed large quantities of illegal cigarettes from these stores, much of which was concealed so that without a tobacco dog we would never have found them.
“We also discovered two vehicles being used as storage containers for illegal cigarettes. One of these was taken away by the council’s Civic Enforcement team and will likely be crushed.
“In total, 46,220 cigarettes and 14.55kg of hand rolling tobacco were seized, further disrupting the illicit trade in the town. In addition, 218 illegal vapes were removed from the supply chain along with a quantity of counterfeit watches,” reports quoted Trevor as saying.
Earlier this year Durham Police issued a public warning to parents of young children about the dangers of vapes being used by those under the age of 18. This was after police in Darlington were made aware that the electronic alternative to cigarettes was being sold to those under 12-years-old.