Thousands of suspected illegal cigarettes and a large quantity of suspected counterfeit tobacco were uncovered during a multi-agency operation across Peterborough and Cambridgeshire.
A two day operation involving officers from Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Trading Standards, Her Majesty's Revenue and Customs (HMRC), Cambridgeshire police, Immigration Enforcement and Wagtail UK took place on January 24 and 25.
'Operation Corrugate' saw officers visit and search stores in the Peterborough and Wisbech areas. Officers were accompanied by three detection dogs from Wagtail UK who sniffed out shelves, store rooms, cupboards and counters.
A total of eight seizures of cigarettes and hand rolling tobacco were made in total, which included over 26,000 cigarettes and 4kg of tobacco.
In one shop, dozens of cigarettes were found in a sealed compartment below the counter and in another, three large bags were found on a store room floor.
Peter Gell, head of Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Trading Standards, said: "In addition to duty not having been paid on the goods seized, we suspect that they are also counterfeit. We will wait until tests are complete before we can say for certain. If they are counterfeit then further investigations will be carried out, including safety testing.
"Our priority is the protection of the public. Illegal cigarettes and tobacco pose serious health risks because the ingredients are not regulated properly, and in cases where duty hasn't been paid, legitimate businesses will be out of pocket.
"People can make a real difference to help keep more illegal tobacco off the streets by reporting it. We'd encourage anyone who has any knowledge of suspected illegal tobacco sales to report it to Peterborough and Cambridgeshire Trading Standards. Reports can be made anonymously.”
To make a report to the Trading Standards team call 01733 747474 or email email@example.com.