Illegal tobacco products and vapes with retail value of £20,000 seized in Walsall

Illegal cigarettes, tobacco and disposable vapes with a retail value of around £20,000 have been seized from traders across Walsall as part of a crackdown on the illicit tobacco trade in the borough.

Walsall Trading Standards, in partnership with West Midlands Police and a specialist search dog team, searched five retail premises and one associated vehicle on 8 May 2024 after receiving intelligence that illegal tobacco was being sold.  

This activity took place under Operation CeCe, a National Trading Standards initiative in partnership with HMRC to tackle illegal tobacco.     

Amongst the goods seized was more than 10,000 cigarettes, 2kg of illegal hand-rolling tobacco and 700 illegal disposable vapes. Some of these vapes, which are attractive to children due to their colourful appearance and flavours, contained as much as 15,000 puffs, significantly higher than the legal limit of 600.     

Illegal goods were hidden under shop counters, in storerooms and concealed within shelving. In one store, a purpose-built wall concealment was unearthed by sniffer dog Griff, with electric power tools needed to gain access to the hidden stash.      

On the day, one male was also arrested by West Midlands Police in relation to an immigration offence.      

Councillor Garry Perry, Deputy Leader and Portfolio Holder for Resilient Communities, said “I would like to thank the Trading Standards team for ensuring this sort of crime is not allowed to continue in Walsall.     

“Tobacco bought on the illegal market is more likely to be the result of organised criminal activity, which brings crime into the Walsall and exploits vulnerable people.     

“Many traders are prepared to sell to children and get them hooked on smoking and vaping which is unacceptable and dangerous.”    

Further investigations continue in the borough to clamp down on such illegal products.  

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