Over 650,000 illegal cigarettes seized from Banbury property
Trading standards officers from Oxfordshire County Council have made their biggest seizure of illicit cigarettes yet, smashing their previous record set just weeks earlier.
A joint operation with Thames Valley Police, on 29 November, saw another residential property in Banbury being raided, resulting in the record haul of 680,380 smuggled and some suspected counterfeit cigarettes being seized. Their illegal market value is estimated at between £150,000 and £200,000. Also seized were two mobile phones and a CCTV recorder, all of which will be forensically examined.
A 37-year-old man was interviewed under caution at Banbury Police Station and, with the investigation ongoing, further suspects are expected to be interviewed.
The illicit cigarettes are being stored at a secure undisclosed location.
Councillor Neil Fawcett, Oxfordshire County Council’s Cabinet Member for Community Services and Safety, said: “Criminals dealing in illegal tobacco provide a cheap source of supply that can easily end up in the hands of young people whose developing lungs are particularly sensitive to the harm tobacco causes. It also encourages adults to carry on smoking, when giving up would dramatically improve their health and wealth.”
The sting took place under Operation CeCe, a national trading standards initiative in partnership with HRMC, which is playing a significant role in disrupting the illicit trade and helping to take illegal tobacco products off the streets.
Jody Kerman, Oxfordshire County Council’s Head of Trading Standards, said: “This is a quite remarkable seizure and one of the biggest ever achieved by trading standards anywhere in the UK. It’s staggering that such a huge quantity of illegal cigarettes was being stored within an otherwise normal residential property in our community. There is no such thing as a safe cigarette, but it is particularly concerning that suspected counterfeit products have been detected, both in terms of public health and fire safety.”
Information from residents is vital in helping to stamp out the supply of illegal tobacco. Reports can be made anonymously by calling 0300 999 6 999 or by visiting stop-illegal-tobacco.co.uk
Trading standards officers from Oxfordshire County Council made their previous biggest seizure of illicit cigarettes on 8 October 2021, also from a house in Banbury. The amount seized was 44,440 cigarettes and 24,500 grams of hand-rolling tobacco.
Image above: Some seized illegal tobacco products.
Image below: Sniffer dog Mostyn and the record haul.
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