Over £100,000 worth of carefully concealed illegal and potentially hazardous tobacco has been discovered in Dewsbury.
Officers from the Dewsbury and Mirfield NPT, along with West Yorkshire Trading Standards, are continuing their investigation following the seizure of a high-value haul of goods in a joint operation on Monday, October 23rd in Dewsbury.
Attending officers expressed their surprise at the elaborate measures taken by those involved to hide their stash. Some hiding places were comparable to scenes from a James Bond spy film. In one instance, a false fuse on an electrical consumer board revealed a hidden cupboard filled with illegal tobacco.
Another stash was concealed within a hinged false wall located behind a bathroom mirror, which smoothly slid up within its frame.
The combined teams visited retailers in Dewsbury with a specialist drugs dog as part of the operation. Alongside the tobacco, a number of illegal disposable vapes were confiscated. These vapes contained more than the legal maximum of 2ml of liquid, providing around 600 puffs.
This operation marks the latest in a series of raids conducted by police and trading standards in Kirklees to crack down on the sale of illegal and counterfeit goods. In August, police and trading standards officers seized 12,000 cigarettes, four kilograms of hand-rolling tobacco, and 4,500 vapes with a retail value of £45,000 in an operation in Huddersfield.
It is also known that proceeds from the sale of illegal tobacco and vapes can be utilised to fund organised criminal enterprises.
Sergeant Stuart Clarke of the Dewsbury and Mirfield NPT, said: “We know that money raised from illegal tobacco sales can be used to directly fund organised crime and through this operation, West Yorkshire Trading Standards and Police have dealt a substantial blow to the criminals benefitting from the supply of illegal and illicit tobacco in communities,
“Through working together we removed in excess of £100k worth of illegal and potentially dangerous Tobacco products were removed from stores carrying illegal goods.
“Investigations will continue to identify supply routes and Police Licensing Officers will consider breaches of the premises licence.”
Sergeant Clarke said that some of the methods used to store the illicit products had been quite ingenious. “Some of the premises had hidden the tobacco in specially designed hides, reminiscent of James Bond style gadgets,” he said. “In one case a false fuse on an electrical consumer board released the board to reveal a hidden cupboard filled with illegal tobacco.”
He added: “Anyone with information about the supply of illicit tobacco is encouraged to contact Trading Standards Confidential reporting system at www.keep-it-out.co.uk or via independent crime prevention charity Crime Stoppers on 0800555111”