Sniffer dog raids have led to the discovery of thousands of illegal cigarettes in a shop in Rugby.
Specialist tobacco sniffer dogs discovered more than 44,000 suspected illegal cigarettes hidden in vehicles and secret compartments following raids on shops across the county.
Acting on local intelligence, on Thursday December 8 2016, Warwickshire Trading Standards officers visited a small ‘corner’ shop in Rugby, accompanied by a sniffer dog team and Warwickshire Police.
A search of the store revealed a huge number of suspected illicit (non-duty paid and counterfeit) cigarettes hidden in a secret compartment behind a wall.
The hidden door was operated by an electromagnet and a key fob.
In total, 20,640 suspected illicit cigarettes were seized.
Councillor John Horner, the county council’s portfolio holder for community safety, said: “The sellers of illegal cigarettes don’t care who they sell to, making it easier for children and young people to obtain cigarettes and get hooked on smoking.
“Cheap illegal cigarettes also threaten the livelihoods of honest and genuine businesses and rob the taxpayer of money that could be spent on schools and hospitals.
“I am delighted that Warwickshire Trading Standards is taking this action to both protect the health of Warwickshire’s young people and support legitimate business.”
Councillor, Philip Johnson, chair of the council’s overview and scrutiny committee, said: “Trading Standards officers will continue to employ specialist sniffer dogs from whom traders will struggle to conceal their illegal tobacco, however clever they believe their tobacco hides to be.
“I would urge anyone with information about the manufacture or sale of illegal tobacco to report the matter to the confidential fakes hotline or to Crimestoppers.”
Martin Jelley, Chief Constable of Warwickshire Police said: “I’m delighted with the outcome of this operation. It’s an excellent example of how our special constabulary is working in partnership with Trading Standards to take action against the sellers of illegal cigarettes in order to support genuine local businesses and protect the health of our community.”
In total, Trading Standards officers seized more than 44,000 suspected illicit cigarettes and more than 4500g of hand rolling tobacco from three shops located in Leamington Spa, Rugby and Nuneaton.
Anyone with any information about illegal cigarettes can contact the Trading Standards fakes hotline on 0300 303 2636. Any information provided will be treated in confidence, and will be anonymous.
Alternatively people can contact Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.