Huge fake fag haul seized after raids

Fake cigarettes stashed in a counter.
Fake cigarettes stashed in a counter.

Counterfeit cigarettes and illegal hand-rolling tobacco were seized as part of a series of raids.

More than 20,000 cigarettes and more than 6kg of tobacco – including counterfeit, non-duty paid and incorrectly labelled products – were seized during raids in Dewsbury, Wakefield, Leeds and Bradford.

Many of the items were hidden in walls and remote-controlled hidden compartments.

Their total value, if genuine, would have been more than £11,500.

Operation Quit was planned to coincide with National No Smoking Day on Wednesday. The operation targeted hot-spot areas and businesses by analysing intelligence and complaints received by West Yorkshire Trading Standards (WYTS).

Buster and Alfie, both cocker spaniels, Murphy, a black labarador and Bertie, a collie cross spaniel, provided by Wagtail UK, helped detect the concealed stashes at the 13 premises visited.

This operation brings the total number of illegal cigarettes removed from West Yorkshire’s streets by WYTS to over half-a-million since April 2014.

David Lodge, Head of WYTS, said “All tobacco is harmful, but the supply of illegal cigarettes seriously undermines the drive to reduce smoking, fuels organised criminality and is often a gateway for young people to becoming addicted to a habit which prematurely kills over half its users.

“Our message is clear to those involved in this illegal practice – there is no hiding place, and we operate a zero tolerance policy.”

Kirklees Council Coun Andrew Pinnock, of the WYTS committee, said: “Those involved in dealing in illegal tobacco may be encouraging people, including children to smoke by providing a cheap source.

“The detection dogs can find tobacco and cigarettes even if hidden in the most unlikely places and offenders need to understand that they will face consequences if they choose to deal in these illegal products and I would urge anyone with information about the supply of illicit tobacco to contact us via the Crimestoppers number 0800 555111.”