July 23 2014 Latest news:
Thursday, July 3, 2014
More than 14,000 illegal cigarettes were seized by a tobacco detection dog in Wisbech on Tuesday as part of a national crackdown.
Warrants were led by Fenland District Council in a joint operation between police, Cambridgeshire Trading Standards, the Trading Standards Institute (TSI) and HM Revenue and Customs.
In addition to the cigarette seizures, a shop worker was interviewed under caution.
The searches were part of Operation Henry, a six-month crackdown on the supply of illicit tobacco across nine regions of England using specialist sniffer dogs.
Each region receives eight days of dog detection provided by Wagtail UK and funded by the Department of Health. The Operation is managed by TSI.
Chief Inspector Robin Sissons, Fenland district commander, said: “These warrants send out a clear message to local retailers that the sale and distribution of illegal tobacco products will not be tolerated. We will continue to pursue those believed to be involved in this type of crime.”
Aileen Andrews, of Cambridgeshire Trading Standards, said: “This demonstrates the positive outcomes of working in partnership to protect our consumers.
“Those involved in dealing in illegal tobacco are seen to be encouraging people, including children, to smoke by providing a cheap source.
“By using these highly trained dogs we were able to seize non-duty paid products which cannot be legally sold in the UK. “Offenders need to know that they will face consequences if they choose to deal in these illegal products.”
Wagtail UK’s dogs are trained on tobacco that has been previously seized during operational searches. They can detect genuine tobacco and cigarettes, counterfeit tobacco and cigarettes, and Shisha tobacco.
The operation, which started in April, has already had considerable success, with concealed stashes of tobacco being detected by dogs in the most unlikely places - under floors, behind magnetic panels, in false cupboards, roof voids and in concealments operated by hydraulic lifts. One concealment was in a tray of cans of beer with the middle cans removed.
Other finds across the country, as part of the operation, include 6,000 cigarettes and chewing tobacco in Grays, Essex; 43,000 cigarettes, 15kg of tobacco and 63 bottles of illegal alcohol in Rochdale; 45,000 cigarettes in Birmingham; and more than 24,000 cigarettes in Bradford and Leeds.