Officials in West Yorkshire seized a record-breaking haul of illegal cigarettes and tobacco when detection dogs helped to uncover hidden stashes at three premises in Wakefield.
More than half a million cigarettes, 45kg of illegal hand rolling tobacco and a quantity of illegal cyclones – pre-rolled tubes through which tobacco can be smoked – were found during the searches.
They were carried out on October 18 as part of an operation by West Yorkshire Trading Standards (WYTS), West Yorkshire Police and Wakefield City Council’s licensing department, along with support from Wagtail UK’s tobacco detection dogs.
With an estimated street value in excess of £150,000, the haul represents the largest seizure of illegal tobacco products by WYTS to date.
David Lodge, head of WYTS, said: “We are committed to the fight against illegal tobacco. By taking tough action and working with partners, this operation has taken a significant amount of illegal tobacco off the streets.”
Operation Window was undertaken as part of the Keep It Out campaign, which is funded by the five public health authorities in West Yorkshire.
Now in its fourth year, it uses marketing campaigns and enforcement to tackle the illicit tobacco trade following consumer complaints and intelligence.
The enforcement element has resulted in almost 2.5 million illegal cigarettes and more than 780kg of illegal hand rolling tobacco being taken off the county’s streets.
Coun David Jones, Wakefield’s deputy cabinet member for adults and health, said: “The illegal sale of tobacco in communities enables and encourages young children to buy it cheaply.
“It is essential that partners are working together to tackle traders that break the law as it appears there is other criminality linked to illegal tobacco taking place.”