Sniffer dogs aid crackdown on illegal tobacco in Walsall

A large amount of illegal tobacco, cigarettes, disposable vapes and suspected tobacco snuff has been discovered across Walsall on Valentine’s Day as part of a crackdown on the illicit tobacco trade.

Walsall Trading Standards, in partnership with West Midlands police and a specialist search dog team, swooped on local shops and a storage unit during the raid.

This activity took place under Operation CeCe, which is a National Trading Standards initiative in partnership with HMRC to tackle illegal tobacco. The shops were visited by Trading Standards and the police after receiving intelligence that illegal tobacco was being sold.

The seizures included 12,089 illegal cigarettes, 2kg of illegal hand rolling tobacco and 76 illegal disposable vapes.  Some of the vapes seized contained 6000 puffs when the legal limit is approximately 600.

During a visit to a storage yard, the tobacco dogs sniffed out three containers loaded with thousands of bags of suspected tobacco snuff which was unlabelled. Further enquiries will be made. 

Two highly trained sniffer dogs, Cooper and Bran, assisted the team and identified two sophisticated concealments which were held closed using an electromagnet. Councillor Garry Perry, Portfolio Holder for Resilient Communities, said:

“Allowing this sort of crime to go on in Walsall is simply not an option and I want to thank the Trading Standards team, West Midlands Police and of course Cooper and Bran, for their hard work to seize these products and get them off our streets.

“Tobacco bought on the illegal market is more likely to be the result of organised criminal activity with links to human trafficking, drugs and even terrorism. This brings crime into Walsall and exploits vulnerable people. Many traders are prepared to sell to children and get them hooked on smoking which is unacceptable and dangerous.

“Walsall Trading Standards have adopted a zero-tolerance approach to these matters and will use every enforcement technique at their disposal to disrupt this type of activity and I want to commend them for their tenacity.”

Lord Michael Bichard, Chair, National Trading Standards, added: “The trade in illegal tobacco harms local communities and affects honest businesses operating within the law.

“Having removed 21 million illegal cigarettes, 5,800kg of hand rolling tobacco and almost 175kg of shisha products from sale, the National Trading Standards initiative in partnership with HMRC continues to successfully disrupt this illicit trade.”


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