Watchdog found hundreds of thousands of pounds worth of knock-off cigarettes in raid

A watchdog has found hundreds of thousands of pounds worth of knock-off cigarettes in a raid.

Bexley’s trading standards, along with the Metropolitan Police, removed 62,940 of the illegal fags from a grocery store in Erith during a raid recently.

The officers discovered the illicit cigarettes and hand rolling tobacco piled high in two stock rooms behind the grocery store on September 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 Oofficers and police bagged 3,147 packets of cigarettes and 42 kilogrammes of hand-rolling tobacco, estimated to be worth £32,000, along with other criminal evidence.

It took officers several hours to remove 14 sacks of evidence from the two stock rooms, storage cabinets and false industrial packaging used to disguise its illegal importation into the UK.

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 that need cigarettes to self-extinguish to prevent house fires.

Councillor Peter Craske, Bexley’s cabinet member for places, said: “Illicit tobacco not only harms our efforts to reduce smoking in the borough, but also presents 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.”

Trading Standards investigations are ongoing.

can report illicit tobacco sales by calling the Citizens Advice consumer helpline on 0808 223 1133.

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