We have set up a dedicated Coronavirus/COVID-19 webpage. Click here or go to

Jack Brooke-Battersby
By Jack Brooke-Battersby

Senior Staff Writer

19 December 2019

| | 3 min read


Cross-river operation sees £40,000 of illegal tobacco seized

A multi-agency operation on Tyneside has seen suspected illegal tobacco worth a potential £42,000 seized. 

The haul of cigarettes seized during the multi-agency operation
The haul of cigarettes seized during the multi-agency operation

Trading Standards officers from Newcastle and Gateshead, alongside personnel from Northumbria Police, executed a search a property in Gateshead on Tuesday December 17th where they discovered the haul. 

A resident at the property is suspected to be involved in illegal tobacco products on either side of the River Tyne. 

They found 62,660 suspected illegal cigarettes alongside 4.75kg of hand-rolling tobacco. 

Cllr Nick Kemp, Newcastle City Council cabinet member for Environment and Regulatory Services, said: “The partnerships we have with neighbouring authorities and the police allow us tackle increasingly complex illegal operations seeking to gain at the expense of others in the North East. 

“Illegal tobacco products are unregulated, they lead to children becoming addicted and being vulnerable to serious health implications of smoking, and it also funds organised crime. 

“Criminals should be mindful that if they continue to scourge our communities we will be coming after them.” 

Councillor John McElroy, Gateshead Council’s Cabinet member for Environment and Transport, said 

"Illegal tobacco keeps people hooked on an addiction that kills over 5,000 people in our region ever year and the sale of illegal tobacco is a not restricted to Local Authority boundaries either. By working with Newcastle Council and Northumbria Police we’re showing we will work together to try and stamp out this criminality.” 

Chief Inspector Alan Pitchford of Northumbria Police said: “This multi-agency operation was the result of weeks of preparation and planning, and we are pleased to have taken these illegal products off our streets. 

“Some people may think the selling of counterfeit goods is a victimless crime, but quite often these goods can be a product of organised crime. 

“Groups can supply them into the region with the intention of making money, which enables them to then continue to fund illicit activities. 

“We are committed to pursuing criminals and protecting our communities as part of Operation Sentinel, which is our collaborative approach to tackling serious and organised crime, and we will continue to work with all our partners to prevent and disrupt these groups.” 

 If you have any information about the sale of illegal tobacco, you can report it completely anonymously to the Keep It Out campaign at