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Sparks fly as hidden illegal stash is discovered - VIDEO

Gloucestershire County Council's Trading Standards officers have continued their crackdown on illegal tobacco with a successful raid in Eastgate Street.

Trading standards officers carried out a search on a Gloucester city centre shop yesterday (Thursday 8th February) following intelligence about large quantities of illegal cigarettes and tobacco being sold from the address.

Assisted by the police, our teams gained entry to the flat above the shop through a reinforced steel door using petrol powered disc cutters.

During the search, teams uncovered a hole in the floor of the flat that which was being used to drop illegal tobacco into the shop below. A small quantity of illegal tobacco was found next to the tobacco chute and in a nearby oven. Officers also discovered a mobile phone that was used to receive orders from a phone kept next to the shop's till. Further illegal tobacco was found in the shop at the foot of the chute.

Alongside the tobacco chute, our teams identified another supply of illegal tobacco and cigarettes in a concealed space under the stairs which was hidden from view by makeshift wooden panels and shelves.

More than 1,120 packets of cigarettes and over 350 pouches of tobacco were discovered during the raid, with an estimated value of £8,000. Included in the discovery were counterfeit plain packaged Mayfair cigarettes.

Officers also discovered approximately £4,500 in cash concealed within a sofa and the inside of a toaster. The cash is suspected to be the proceeds of illegal cigarette sales.

Cllr Nigel Moor, cabinet member for fire, planning and infrastructure, said "The sale of illegal tobacco undermines legitimate businesses in Gloucestershire and funds criminal activity.

"Our officers are no fools and let this be yet another warning - break the law, and we will catch you."

Andy Hermiston, head of trading standards, said; "The seizure of such a large quantity of illegal cigarettes and tobacco is a major success for the team.

"We want to urge the public to think about the consequences of buying illegal tobacco and to report the sale of illegal cigarettes and tobacco."

If residents have any concerns about tobacco products being sold in the county, they can contact the Citizens Advice Consumer Service on 03454 04 05 06, or use the 'report a rogue link' on the consumers page of the trading standards website.

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