‘Operation CeCe’ cracks down on illicit tobacco trade in Flintshire
Flintshire Council Trading Standards officers along with North Wales Police and special investigators from HMRC seized a large amount of illicit tobacco from commercial premises in Connahs Quay and Flint recently.
In one premises, the tobacco was hidden in a specially made hide built into the bathroom that was specifically designed to prevent the detection of the tobacco.
At a second premises, the tobacco was found in a van parked near the premises. Enquiries into where the tobacco came from are continuing.
Operation CeCe is part of the wider strategy HMRC is undertaking to tackle this problem; from the targeting of organised crime groups that work internationally to produce and smuggle illegal tobacco products to local disruption activity including the seizure of products at local retail premises.
More than five million illegal cigarettes have been seized from local retail outlets in Wales and England during the first six months of the year as part of the operation.
Flintshire’s Cabinet Member for Planning and Public Protection, Councillor Chris Bithell, said:
“The sale of illicit tobacco is a serious matter, the Welsh Government is currently looking to make Wales ‘smoke free’ by 2030.”
“Smoking related illness is still a serious issue in Wales and the availability of cheap illegal tobacco products seriously undermines the aspiration to significantly reduce smoking related illness in Wales.”
“The Council’s Trading Standards service will continue to act on any information received regarding the supply of illicit tobacco and will carry out disruption activities including seizure to stop its supply.”
Richard Powell, Flintshire’s Trading Standards Investigations Manager, said:
“The supply of illicit tobacco continues to be an issue in Wales.”
“Suppliers often target young people under the age at which they can legally purchase tobacco to get them addicted to the product regardless of the fact they are aware of the serious health problems smoking tobacco causes people.”
“This was a successful operation based on information from previous operations and recently received intelligence that indicated the targets were supplying illicit tobacco.”
If anyone has any information regarding the supply of illicit tobacco they can report it anonymously to Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.”
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