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Illicit tobacco seized in multi-agency raid

Published: 24/11/2016

A joint operation between Flintshire Trading Standards, Neighbourhood Wardens and North Wales Police has resulted in a seizure of illegal tobacco. Approximately 8,000 cigarettes plus hand rolling tobacco were seized from stores in Flint and Holywell. Investigations into the source of the cigarettes are ongoing. The operation was supported by specialist tobacco sniffer dogs who located the tobacco that had been hidden away a behind a false wall and in a false ceiling above a toilet. The trade in illegal tobacco is sometimes seen as a victimless crime, but it is far from that. Often those who sell illegal tobacco target children and young people to get them hooked on smoking, they rarely care who they sell to as long as they make money. The illegal tobacco trade has strong links with crime and criminal gangs including those involved in drug dealing, people trafficking and even helping fund terrorism. The sale of illegal tobacco also steals from the taxpayer. This is money that could be spent on important public services like schools, hospitals and care for the elderly. Flintshire County Council’s Cabinet Member for Public Protection, Councillor Kevin Jones, said: “The sale of cheap illegal tobacco makes it easier for young people to start smoking and get addicted and makes it harder for smokers who want to give up break the habit. Far from being a victimless crime, the trade in illegal tobacco has serious consequences for crime and health in the community and causes economic detriment to legitimate local businesses.” Sgt Mike Wilson of Flintshire North Safer Neighbourhood Team said: “This is an excellent outcome for those agencies involved. This shows by working together we can make a real impact in dealing with issues within the community. I would encourage anyone who can offer information about this type of crime to report it to North Wales Police via the web live chat, by calling 101 or via Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.” Richard Powell, Flintshire’s Team Leader for Trading Standards Investigations and Community Safety, said: “This great result shows excellent partnership working between enforcement agencies as we continue our success in reducing the availability of illegal tobacco. Fewer people are buying illegal tobacco and fewer people are now prepared to turn a blind eye to it. People can make a real difference to help keep more illegal tobacco off the streets by reporting it. We need to keep the pressure up on those who continue to sell it.” Anyone wanting to report sales of illegal tobacco can do so to Trading Standards on 03454 040506. Illegal tobacco products are cigarettes or hand rolling tobacco that have been smuggled, bootlegged or are counterfeit and are not subject to any controls over their composition. Left to right: PCSO Andy Knowles, PCSO Helen Whittingham and Claire Edge Flintshire Trading Standards