Published: 17:30, 14 January 2021
| Updated: 17:55, 14 January 2021
Illegal cigarettes have been seized by police after being discovered on the shelves of shops in one Kent town.
Officers from the Gravesend Community Safety Unit found 49,000 cigarettes in two shops during patrols in the past week.
An investigation is now under way after it was discovered the correct tax and duties had not been paid.
No arrests have been made but inquiries are ongoing between police, Kent Trading Standards and Gravesham council to take "appropriate action".
The first haul was discovered 38,000 cigarettes were being sold and stored illegally in a shop on Milton Road during a routing patrol at 2pm on January 8.
On Tuesday this week, a second shop in Pelham Road South was also visited by officers and were reportedly found to have been selling the illegal tobacco.
More than 11,000 cigarettes and 92 pouches of untaxed tobacco were seized.
'Opportunistic shopkeepers affect law abiding businesses which are operating legitimately...'
Chief Insp Junior Dann, district commander for Dartford and Gravesham said: "Offending like this is not a harmless crime.
"Opportunistic shopkeepers who stock and sell these untaxed cigarettes, and illegal tobacco, affect law abiding businesses which are operating legitimately.
"As a force we work tirelessly to ensure any business found benefitting from the sale of illegal cigarettes and tobacco products are dealt with robustly.
"We continue to work with partner agencies, such as Trading Standards, to ensure any business found operating in this way is stopped from doing so, and we will continue to clamp down on businesses which are involved in this type of offending."
The untaxed tobacco was removed from the shops and officers are continuing to make inquiries in connection with the ongoing investigations.