Salford City Council trading standards officers have seized more than 91,000 cigarettes in raids carried out with sniffer dogs over the past three weeks.
In one home, which was raided together with Greater Manchester Police, council officers found 67,950 counterfeit cigarettes and more than 150 50g pouches of rolling tobacco. The haul, which has an estimated street value of £40,000, is the single biggest stash of illicit tobacco ever recovered in Salford.
In addition to the residential address, officers visited 25 businesses as part of this year’s Keep It Out campaign against illegal and counterfeit tobacco.
One shop visit uncovered dozens of packets of counterfeit cigarettes concealed in a secret compartment behind a shelf full of soft drinks.
In total officers seized 4,567 packets containing 91,340 cigarettes, as well as 256 50g pouches of hand rolling tobacco. All of the goods seized were counterfeit or non-duty paid, and had a combined estimated street value of £45,967. Officers also seized £4,967 under the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002.
Councillor David Lancaster said he was pleased to see the majority of shopkeepers were doing the right thing and not selling illegal tobacco, but those who were would face further investigation. “There are no bargains to be had when it comes to illegal tobacco,” he said. “This trade is linked to organised crime gangs who also deal in human trafficking, loan sharking and the drugs trade.
“Illegal tobacco is also robbing the public purse of much-needed revenue for vital services including the NHS, and these products are often targeted at young people getting them hooked on smoking and damaging their health.
The raids took place in Swinton, Eccles and Little Hulton. No further details are being released due to ongoing investigations.