Merseyside police have arrested four men and seized thousands of pounds in cash, hundreds of counterfeit cigarettes and two weapons, all from convenience stores in Knowsley on Tuesday (5).
Officers in partnership with Trading Standards carried out a joint operation to stop the sale of counterfeit cigarettes and illegal vaping products at three shops in Kirkby and Halewood. In total across the three visits, around £22,000 in cash was seized, along with a machete-type weapon, a knife, counterfeit cigarettes and vapes.
A 45-year-old man from Liverpool was arrested on suspicion of possession of an offensive weapon, possessing criminal property and possession of goods with a false trade mark for sale. An 18-year-old man from Liverpool was arrested on suspicion of racially/religiously aggravated intentional harassment/alarm/distress through words/writing. Two men, aged 42 and 47, both from Liverpool, were arrested on suspicion of possessing criminal property and possessing an offensive weapon, stated Merseyside police.
All four men have been released on conditional bail pending further enquiries.
Superintendent for Knowsley Karl Baldwin said, “Illicit products such as these carry the potential to damage public health as the chemicals added to these products aren’t monitored or licensed in any way. They could be exposing consumers to potentially dangerous chemicals, and we are pleased to have helped take them out of circulation.
“We have also seized a large quantity of cash and two dangerous weapons, which we are glad to see removed from our streets. I hope our ongoing work and partnership with Trading Standards shows the steps we will take to remove any counterfeit goods from our stores and community. Whenever we receive intelligence about illegal goods, we work closely with our local police forces and partners including Trading Standards to investigate and take appropriate action.
“The counterfeit goods trade isn’t a victimless crime. Often criminals use the profits to fund other organised crime, and with that often comes violence, which can have devastating effects on the local community.
“I am keen that anyone else that knows someone involved in selling illicit tobacco or counterfeit goods to get in touch so we can safely remove these products off the streets.”
Cllr Shelley Powell, Cabinet Member for Communities and Neighbourhoods, said, “Working in partnership with Merseyside Police and other agencies, Knowsley’s Trading Standards Team has helped stop the sale of counterfeit cigarettes and illegal vaping products at three shops in the borough, which has meant around 900 non-compliant tobacco items have been removed from sale.
“As part of the operation, dangerous weapons and a significant amount of cash were also seized by Police. It is vital we continue to tackle the sale of illegal or counterfeit goods, the proceeds of which are often used to fund a wider criminal enterprise.