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Illegal cigarettes seized from shops across the Medway Towns in council crack down

Thousands of illegal cigarettes have been seized by Medway Council's Trading Standards team.

Four retail premises in Rochester, Chatham, Strood and Luton were under investigation by the council and Kent Police.

32,000 illegal cigarettes and 74kg of hand rolling tobacco were seized over the weekend.

Scamp and Yoyo with the illegla tabacco (6778834)
Scamp and Yoyo with the illegla tabacco (6778834)

In one shop, the sniffer dogs found a large secret hide, concealed behind a light fitting, containing nearly 5,000 cigarettes.

In another premises the diligent dogs found a hidden panel in the toilet area which contained around 7,000 cigarettes.

Police search dog Yoyo hard at work (6778836)
Police search dog Yoyo hard at work (6778836)

Cllr Jane Chitty, Medway Council’s Portfolio Holder covering Enforcement, said: “This incredible discovery of £10,000 of illegal tobacco would not have been possible without the hard work of our Trading Standards team and Kent Police.

“Selling illegal tobacco is a criminal offence and anyone found doing so faces prosecution. Some of these products can be counterfeit and highly dangerous and toxic. We hope this serves as a warning that we are committed to taking action against anyone who chooses to trade in illegal tobacco.

“I would also like to encourage residents to continue to report shops selling counterfeit cigarettes to us.”

Sergeant Jon Fouracre, from Kent Police’s Medway Community Safety Unit, said: “Many of the tobacco products seized are believed to have been brought into the country by organised crime groups, seeking to make a quick profit at the expense of the UK taxpayer.

“There is no place for organised criminality in Medway and this weekend of enforcement activity shows we work closely with our partners to identify offenders and prevent money going into criminal hands."

The investigation into the shops is still ongoing.

Anyone wishing to report the sale of illegal tobacco can call 01634 334 455 or visit www.medway.gov.uk/illegaltobacco.

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