THOUSANDS of illegal cigarettes and three kilograms of tobacco have been seized from three stores.
About 63,000 cigarettes as well as 3kg of hand rolling tobacco were seized from three stores in Flint in a joint operation between Flintshire Council’s Trading Standards officers and North Wales Police.
The tobacco had been hidden away in a specially constructed shop counter which contained a hidden compartment with an electronically controlled sliding door.
Pepper had been liberally sprayed all over the products in an attempt to hide the tobacco from specialist sniffer dogs used to identify illicit goods.
Investigations in to the source of the cigarettes are ongoing.
Inspector Ceri Hawe from North Wales Police said: “We attended three premises in Flint to assist Flintshire Trading Standards in executing warrants. Significant quantities of illicit tobacco were recovered.
“Intelligence received from members of the public helped with this operation and I would continue to ask anyone who may be aware of any premises selling such products to contact police on 101 or Flintshire Council Trading Standards.”
Illicit tobacco products are cigarettes or hand-rolling tobacco that have been smuggled, bootlegged or are counterfeit and are not subject to any controls over their composition.
Cllr Kevin Jones, Flintshire Council cabinet member for public protection, said: “This is an excellent example of partnership working between the council’s Trading Standards service and North Wales Police.
“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 and break the habit.
“Far from being a victimless crime, the trade in illicit tobacco has serious consequences for crime and health in the community and causes economic detriment to legitimate local businesses.”
Anyone wanting to report sales of illicit tobacco should contact Trading Standards on 03454 040506.