MORE than 100,000 illegal cigarettes and 30kg of tobacco worth over £81,700 was seized in Swindon

Led by Swindon Trading Standards and supported by officers from HMRC, Wiltshire Police and the team at South West Illegal Tobacco, Operation CeCe recovered 108,590 illegal cigarettes and 31.17kg of hand-rolling tobacco last week.

Wagtails tobacco detection dogs and tip-offs from neighbours helped the investigation team find stashes in four shops and a number of other searched vehicles associated with the properties. 

Coun Cathy Martyn, Swindon Borough Council’s cabinet member for housing and public safety, said: “Operations like this are hugely important if we want to clamp down on this illegal activity, which is placing the safety of our residents at risk.

“The unscrupulous people who sell illegal tobacco do not care who they sell it to or what the health consequences to those people will be. It feeds crime in communities and has been linked to human trafficking, drugs and loan sharks.

“I hope this latest operation with our partners sends out a warning that we will not stand for this activity in our town.”

Ben Hayes from Trading Standards' illegal tobacco team said: “The sale and supply of illegal tobacco funds serious and organised crime in and around your community, and people must think beyond it being a tax issue.

“The availability of cheap illegal tobacco undermines the quit attempts of individuals and creates an unfair advantage to legitimate businesses.

“All tobacco is dangerous, however some illegal cigarettes do not comply with safety laws and fail to extinguish if left unattended.  This could increase the risk of a fire at home.

“Don’t be part of the problem, be part of the solution and report illegal tobacco sales, No Ifs, No Butts.”

Any information leading to the sale and supply of illegal tobacco can be reported, anonymously, to Trading Standards at

Ian Woolston from the Fraud Investigation Service at HM Revenue & Customs, said: “Disrupting criminal trade is at the heart of our strategy to clamp down on the illicit tobacco market, which costs the UK around £2.3bn a year. This is theft from the taxpayer and undermines legitimate traders.

“We have cut by a third the market in illicit cigarettes since 2000 and halved the hand-rolling tobacco market over the same period.

“We encourage anyone with information about the illegal sale of tobacco to report it online or call the Fraud Hotline on 0800 788 887.”

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