Bexley’s Trading Standards, with the Metropolitan Police, removed 62,940 illegal cigarettes from a grocery store in Erith during a raid last week.
The officers discovered the illicit cigarettes and hand-rolling tobacco piled high in two stock rooms behind the grocery store on Sept 10.
Bexley Trading Standards Officers first carried out a covert operation, acting on information from the Metropolitan Police. The officers found the store to be selling smuggled tobacco products from under the counter.
During the raid, Trading Standards officers and the police bagged 3,147 packets of cigarettes and 42 kilograms of hand-rolling tobacco estimated to be worth £32,000, along with other criminal evidence.
The government officials reported that it took officers several hours to remove 14 sacks of evidence from the two stock rooms and storage cabinets. The tobacco was packed in false industrial packaging to disguise its illegal import into the UK.
The government body insisted that the haul was not produced or packaged for legal sale in the UK. When tested the seized goods are likely to fail UK safety regulations including the one that need cigarettes to self-extinguish to prevent house fires.
Councilor Peter Craske, Bexley’s Cabinet Member for Places, said that illicit tobacco presented a serious fire risk to Bexley residents.
“The successful seizure has made a sizable dent in the cash profits of these determined organised criminals. We will continue working with the Metropolitan Police to track down and stop the selling of smuggled and unsafe products under the counter,” Craske said.
Trading Standards investigations continue.