Published: 10:39, 04 April 2019
| Updated: 11:12, 04 April 2019
More than 14,000 illegal cigarettes have been seized from shops in two Kent towns.
Specially trained dogs helped sniff out illicit tobacco during a day of action in Tunbridge Wells and Tonbridge.
The joint operation involving Kent Police and HM Revenue and Customs was supported by Kent Trading Standards.
At a store in Camden Road, Tunbridge Wells, a mixture of fake and non-duty paid tobacco products were discovered. In total 8,260 illegal cigarettes were seized along with 2.8kg of hand rolling tobacco.
In Tonbridge, more than 6,000 illegal cigarettes and 1.5kg of rolling tobacco was recovered from a shop in Railway Approach. A man was also arrested in connection with inmigration offences.
Further checks in both towns also led to the confiscation of non UK duty paid alcohol - 154 cases of beer from one shop in Grove Hill Road, Tunbridge Wells.
Ben Moore, assistant director of the HMRC fraud investigation service, said: "Disrupting criminal trade is at the heart of our strategy to clampdown on the illicit tobacco market, which costs the UK around £2.5 billion a year, and the sale of illicit alcohol which costs around £1.3 billion per year. "This is theft from the taxpayer and undermines legitimate traders."
PC Jane Skinner of the West Kent Community Safety Unit said: "This was a joint intervention into an illegal trade, which we know is often linked to the activities of organised criminal groups.
"We are continuing to work very closely with our partners to stamp out the illegal sale of tobacco.
"Businesses which flout the law should also a expect a visit in the near future."
Anyone with information about the illegal sale of tobacco or alcohol is asked to report it by calling HMRC on 0800 788887.
You can also contact Kent Trading Standards online by clicking here.