A haul of 70,000 cigarettes was seized as part of a search for illicit tobacco and counterfeit alcohol in Bedford.
Officers from Bedford Borough Council’s Trading Standards Team and Beds Police, carried out the operation focusing on several suspected shops in Midland Road and Ford End Road areas of town.
Three of the shops searched were found to have large quantities of illicit tobacco and alcohol stored in vehicles associated to the premises.
‘Illicit tobacco’ describes counterfeit or ‘smuggled’ foreign tobacco upon which the appropriate duties and taxes have not been paid, and it usually does not comply with UK legislation around packaging. Counterfeit cigarettes are particularly dangerous as the ingredients used come from unknown sources and have been found in many cases to contain non tobacco vegetable matter.
The stores selling the illicit tobacco are now facing further enforcement action by Bedford Borough Council.
Councillor Colleen Atkins, Portfolio Holder for Community Safety and Regulatory Services,said: “This was a successful partnership operation carried out by Bedford Borough Council’s Trading Standards Team supported by Bedfordshire Police. We are particularly pleased the illicit alcohol and possibly dangerous counterfeit cigarettes have been taken off the streets.”
Liam Mitchell, Bedfordshire Police’s Community Safety Sergeant, said: “This is an excellent example of partnership and multi-agency working. Our priority is keeping the public safe, part of which is ensuring that customers know what they are buying.
“The production and sale of counterfeit or illicit tobacco is often linked to organised crime and we work closely with the council to take a robust stance with any licensed premise that breaks the law. We are pleased to have assisted in taking such vast quantities of potentially dangerous products off our streets.”