Suspicious officers jump into action to seize 330,000 suspected illegal cigarettes

Officers became suspicious of a shop when on patrol last week
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More than £200,000 worth of cigarettes has been seized by police in Byker and Benwell.

Northumbria Police officers recovered a total of 330,000 suspected illegal cigarettes, as well as 132 kilograms of hand rolling tobacco at a separate location.

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Last Thursday patrolling officers on Shields Road in Byker spotted suspicious behaviour near a shop and, upon entry, saw what they believed to be counterfeit goods.

Their suspicion was further aroused by a lack of co-operation.

A search of the address uncovered 180,000 cigarettes and a large quantity of cash which was seized under the Proceeds of Crime Act.

On Friday, a self-storage unit linked to a Newcastle based trader was also searched with the help a detection dog and 130,000 cigarettes and 128kg of hand-rolling tobacco were seized.

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The recoveries followed on from a visit earlier in the week which saw officers and Trading Standards join forces to carry out a series of checks.

During one visit in the Benwell area, 2000 packs of around 40,000 suspected counterfeit cigarettes were seized along with five kilograms of tobacco.

Investigations into all cases remain ongoing at this time.

Following the seizures, the Force has warned of the dangers of buying counterfeit goods.

A haul seized by officers A haul seized by officers
A haul seized by officers

Chief Inspector Dave Wheeler from Northumbria Police said: “Counterfeit cigarettes pose a real danger to people as they are not produced by licensed companies and contain unknown quantities of chemicals.

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“People might think that it’s OK to buy them and take that risk, but what they don’t see is that the money used from the sale of these items is often used to fund organised crime and further illicit activity.

“As a Force, we are committed to tackling serious and organised crime, as part of Operation Sentinel, and will continue to pursue those involved in illegal activities, as well as protecting the public from the potential harmful effects of this type of criminality.”

Cabinet Member for Housing and Regulation, Cllr Linda Hobson, said: “All tobacco is harmful so I commend the police for making all these seizures. It will make a significant contribution to public health preventing this from getting onto our streets.

“The council works very closely with the police on these operations and always investigates when it receives information from the public about illegal activity. Anyone who wants to report anything should ring trading standards on 0191 2787878 and give information in the strictest of confidence.”

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