Second haul of illegal cigarettes uncovered by police following raids on shops in Leeds

This haul of illegal cigarettes was found inside two cars searched by police.
This haul of illegal cigarettes was found inside two cars searched by police.

Illegal cigarettes worth thousands of pounds have been found inside two vehicles seized outside shops in Leeds.

It follows raids on seven off-licences and shops in Armley last week, which uncovered a large amount of illegal cigarettes being sold for as little as £3 per packet.

A sniffer dog had directed officers to items concealed in ceiling spaces and hollowed out shops counters as well as two vehicles parked behind some of the properties being searched.

Today officers from the Leeds Inner West policing team secured an order giving permission to open up those seized cars.

Inside they found hundreds of packets of illegal cigarettes, including illegally imported cigarettes and counterfeit versions of well-known brands.

The haul of cigarettes found in the cars is worth an estimated £33,000 if sold at standard UK prices and would have netted the shops more than £10,000 at their knockdown prices.

Sergeant Chris Craven said: "There was a lot of intelligence coming through from members of the public that a large amount of off-licences on Armley Town Street were selling a lot of cheap cigarettes.

"Most of those were imported from Eastern Europe but there were also concerns that some of the UK brands were counterfeit."

Officers from West Yorkshire Trading Standards carried out test purchasing at a number of shops and were able to buy illegal cigarettes at seven businesses.

After securing warrants, they returned with local police last week to carry out a series of raids.

Sgt Craven said: "Only one of those seven stores was found not to be selling the cigarettes. There were cigarettes and some other items recovered inside the stores, and there were also two vehicles - a Renault Clio and a VW Passat - that were seized from the rear of some of those stores.

"They don't keep the items in the stores. They've cottoned on to the fact Trading Standards come into the stores."

While some appeared to be off-licences with food on the shelves, officers found in some cases that there was no food in the storage areas.

"It's basically done up to look like a shop, but all they sell is counterfeit cigarettes," Sgt Craven said.

"A lot of the food on the shelves was out-of-date."

Anyone with information on the sale of counterfeit goods is urged to call their local policing team via 101.