Illegal cigarettes found after tip-off

editorial image

Thousands of illegal cigarettes have been uncovered by a sniffer dog in Wigan.

Trading standards officers at Wigan Council executed warrants at two premises in Ince after receiving a tip-off from members of the public.

Using a sniffer dog, they found around 23,000 illegal cigarettes stored in vehicles.

The cigarettes were estimated to have a street value of around £4,000.

Some of the cigarettes were suspected to be counterfeit and an investigation is under way.

The operation was carried out on Tuesday by trading standards officers, with assistance from police and the immigration service.

Coun Kevin Anderson, cabinet member for environment, said: “We are grateful to members of the public who gave us the information which enabled us to make these discoveries.

“We rely on this intelligence to help us stop illegal tobacco from being available on our streets.”

Trading standards have employed a tough stance against illegal cigarette dealers, with thousands seized over the past year alone.

In one series of raids, 35,000 cigarettes and 50kg of illicit tobacco were seized from three addresses in Higher Ince and Whelley.

In July, the owner of a discount store in Wigan town centre admitted selling illegal tobacco. He was fined and his shop closed.

Julie Middlehurst, group manager regulation of trading standards, said: “We will continue to crack down on illegal sales of tobacco and other counterfeit goods in Wigan borough.

“It is not a victimless crime as illegal sales can be a danger to our residents’ health and have been found to get into the hands of children.

“We are grateful for the valuable leads we received from local residents in this case and we continue to urge people to come forward with information on any suspicious activity so together we can stop these illegal sales.”

The trading standards team is encouraging any members of the public with information about the sale of illegal tobacco to contact them on 01942 827476 or email ts@wigan.gov.uk.