THOUSANDS of illegal cigarettes and 60 litres of alcohol have been seized from a store.
A joint operation between Flintshire Trading Standards, North Wales Police and HM Revenue and Customs led to the seizure of about 22,000 illicit cigarettes, rolling tobacco and alcohol.
Investigations into the source of the cigarettes and alcohol, seized from a store in Flint, are ongoing.
The operation was supported by specialist tobacco sniffer dogs which located some of the tobacco hidden away in a locked garage behind the store.
Cllr Kevin Jones, Flintshire Council cabinet member for waste strategy, public protection and leisure, said: “The sale of cheap illicit tobacco makes it easier for new smokers to get addicted and makes it harder for smokers who want to give up break the habit.
“Far from being a victimless crime, trade in illicit tobacco has serious consequences for crime and health in the community and causes economic detriment to legitimate local businesses.”
Illicit tobacco products consist of cigarettes or hand-rolling tobacco that has been smuggled, bootlegged or are counterfeit and are not subject to any controls over their composition.
Flintshire Council said the store concerned will not be named during the investigation.
HMRC spokesman Bob Gaiger said: “HMRC works with other law enforcement agencies to target anyone we suspect is selling or smuggling illicit tobacco.
“We relentlessly pursue any individuals or crime gangs believed to be involved in this type of criminal activity.
“It is not a victimless crime and undermines the efforts of legitimate traders.
“We urge people to come forward and let us know if they have information about the smuggling, sale, transport, or storage of illicit tobacco by calling the Customs hotline on 0800 59 5000.”
Anyone reporting sales of illicit tobacco can do so to Trading Standards on 08454 040506.