A CRIME FIGHTING dog helped police and council investigators uncover thousands of illicit cigarettes and tobacco products during a recent crackdown on illegal items.
South Tyneside Council trading standards officers recently seized the transport of 46,100 cigarettes and 20.15kg of rolling tobacco from two shops in coordinated raids in the borough, with the help of specialist detection dog YoYo.
Backed by Northumbria Police, the premises were targeted following reports from concerned members of the public that illegal goods were being sold there.
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Cllr Ernest Gibson, Senior Member of Area Management and Community Safety, said: ‘Illegal tobacco includes counterfeit tobacco, non-British duty-paid tobacco and ‘cheap white’ cigarettes, which have little or no market legitimate and therefore are actually manufactured specifically for smuggling. . The impact of this is considerable.
“Unfortunately, cheap tobacco encourages smokers to continue smoking longer, shattering their will to quit, not to mention the negative impact it has on legitimate merchants who operate within the law and money it deprives of vital public services.
“What is extremely worrying is that dealers often target children and young people, encouraging them to start smoking. This puts them at risk of developing a harmful addiction as well as the myriad of serious long-term health problems that smoking can cause.
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The raids were part of Operation CeCe; a wider partnership on national trading standards with HM Revenue and Customs, aimed at tackling illegal tobacco.
Chief Inspector Neil Hall, of Northumbria Police, added: ‘Some people may think the sale of counterfeit products is a victimless crime, but sometimes these products can be the proceeds of organized crime.
“Groups may provide them in the region with the intention of making money, which then allows them to continue funding illicit activities.
“We are committed to prosecuting criminals and protecting our communities under the banner of Operation Sentinel. Working with our partners, we will continue to do everything we can to detect and disrupt crime.
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