An operation to disrupt the sale and supply of suspected illegal tobacco and alcohol in Chester uncovered more than 4,700 illegal cigarettes and over 72 litres of spirits.
Officers from HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) and support agencies visited seven retail premises and a storage unit on Thursday (August 13).
The visits, as part of HMRC’s multi-agency activity, led to what is believed to be tobacco and alcohol products, on which UK duty hasn’t been paid, being seized from three premises. This included:
4740 cigarettes, with an estimated £1,670.18 duty and VAT evaded
850 grams of hand-rolling tobacco, with an estimated £189 duty and VAT evaded
72.8 litres of spirits / beer, with an estimated £2,414.71 duty and VAT evaded.
Sandra Smith, assistant director, criminal investigation, HMRC, said: “The sale of illegal tobacco and alcohol will not be tolerated by us or our partner agencies.
“Disrupting criminal trade is at the heart of our strategy to clampdown on the illicit tobacco market, which costs the UK around £2.1 billion a year, and the sale of illicit alcohol which costs the UK around £1 billion per year. This is theft from the taxpayer and undermines legitimate traders.
“We encourage anyone with information about the illegal sale of tobacco or alcohol to contact the Customs Hotline on 0800 59 5000.”
HMRC is making enquires to determine what further civil or criminal action may be taken.
HMRC are supported by Cheshire West and Chester enforcement officers in their work to tackle illicit tobacco and alcohol.
Cheshire West and Chester Council’s Cabinet member for communities and environment, Cllr Mark Henesy, said: “Anyone involved in dealing in illegal products, in an attempt to provide a cheap source of tobacco or alcohol, may be encouraging people, including children, to smoke or drink irresponsibly. The products could also be potentially dangerous.
“This operation is another example of how the council’s regulatory services team is working with partners to protect residents in Cheshire West. We will continue to work to drive out this illegal trade.”