Illegal tobacco worth over £30,000 has been found hidden under a rug and a ‘secret trap door’ in Gloucester.
Trading Standards asked Gloucestershire Police to enter an address in the Barton area where the huge find was found ‘in a secret trapdoor under the floor after removing the carpet’.
Trading standards officers had obtained a warrant from magistrates after the property was identified as part of an investigation into illegal tobacco storage. The raid on the address follows a recent seizure of £1,000 worth of illegal tobacco from a nearby store.
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Other illegal tobacco was found in the kitchen, in an area under the stairs and inside a fridge-freezer. Trading standards officers seized 4,465 packets of cigarettes and 806 packets of rolling tobacco from the property.
The loot was valued at over £30,000. No duty had been paid on the tobacco, avoiding over £55,000 in tax. Trading Standards suspect the cigarettes were part of an organized supply chain supporting sales of illegal tobacco, costing the UK taxpayer an estimated £2.3billion a year.
Last month, officers also seized more than £41,000 worth of illegal tobacco from a property in Southgate Street.
Insp Si Motala, of the Gloucester Neighborhood Policing Team, said: ‘It’s not just about getting cheap tobacco off the streets. We know that illegal tobacco is often used to fund organized crime, which can have a significant impact on our communities.
“I hope this mandate shows that we will work with our partners, including Trade Standards, to disrupt those involved in this crime line.”
Dave Norman, County Council Cabinet Member responsible for trading standards, said: “Illegal tobacco harms trade from legitimate suppliers and poses a risk to public health. Our Trade Standards team works hard to make sure these counterfeit products don’t end up on the streets.
“I would also like to thank our colleagues at Gloucestershire Police for their assistance in this investigation.”