Haul of suspected black-market cigarettes found in Ipswich shop boiler

Ipswich illegal cigarettes and tobacco raids

Suffolk Trading Standards said 5,760 cigarettes and 2,150g of hand rolling tobacco was found concealed within a boiler at a shop in Ipswich - Credit: Suffolk Trading Standards

Trained dogs sniffed out a haul of suspected black-market cigarettes and tobacco during a series of raids on shops.

Thousands of suspected illegal cigarettes and more than two kilos of tobacco were seized from one shop in Ipswich town centre.

The items were found "concealed within a boiler", according to officials.

Authorities raided five shops across Suffolk as part of an operation involving covert officers and based on local intelligence.

Items seized from the as yet unidentified shop in Ipswich town centre are due to be examined to establish their origin.

The raid was led by Suffolk Trading Standards, with the support of Suffolk Constabulary and detection dogs from Wagtail UK.

A Suffolk Trading Standards spokesman said 5,760 cigarettes and 2,150g of hand rolling tobacco was found concealed within a boiler.

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"The sniffer dog indicated the area of the tobacco, and the handler then found the concealment," they added.

"The boiler was turned off and the tobacco stored inside.

"The seized products will now be fully assessed as part of the investigation to determine the exact offences that have been committed."

Raids also took place at four other locations across the county.

Test purchases had been carried out at the retailers in the last few weeks.

All five premises are said to have sold suspected contraband to a covert officer, but further items were understood to have been found at only one of the shops.

The raids took place under Operation CeCe, a National Trading Standards initiative, in partnership with HM Revenue and Customs, to tackle illegal tobacco.

National Trading Standards has said that the impact of the illegal tobacco trade is far-reaching and often part of wider criminality, including drug smuggling, people trafficking and illegal alcohol production.

Meanwhile, the availability of cheap tobacco is said to significantly undermine the effect of higher taxation on efforts to reduce the number of smokers.

Operation CeCe focuses on local disruption activity, working closely with tobacco detection dog teams and test purchasers to target suppliers.

The operation started in January 2021 and runs for 15 months across England and Wales.

Suffolk Trading Standards has asked the public to provide any information on the sale, storage and delivery of illegal tobacco by calling the Citizens Advice Consumer Service on 0808 223 1133.

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