14 February 2020| | 3 min read
Dogs sniff out £60,000 of illegal cigarettes in Newcastle
Specially trained sniffer dogs have supported trading standards officers to seize illegal cigarettes potentially worth £60,000 in Newcastle.
Officers from Newcastle City Council and Northumbria Police enlisted the support of the dogs on Thursday 13 and Friday 14 February to assist in intelligence-led raids at businesses and private residencies across the city.
The investigative team, which included visiting Trading Standards officers from West Yorkshire, unearthed approximately 120,000 suspected illegal cigarettes. The vast majority of these came from a visit to a residential property in the West End where a bedroom was being used to store the illegal goods.
Cllr Nick Kemp, Newcastle City Council cabinet member for Environment and Regulatory Services, said: “The partnerships we have clearly established with the police and HMRC allow us to tackle increasingly complex illegal operations seeking to gain at the expense of others in Newcastle and across the North East.
“Illegal tobacco products are unregulated, they lead to children becoming addicted and being vulnerable to the serious health implications of smoking, while we also know it funds organised crime.
“Being able to count upon these highly-skilled dogs leaves criminals operating in our city with nowhere to hide, but whether the dogs are here or not, gangs operating in this way can be sure we’re coming for them.”
Inspector Daniel Whyte, of Northumbria Police, said: “This is another example of outstanding partnership work and we are pleased to have taken these illegal products of the streets of Newcastle.
“Some people may think the selling of counterfeit goods is a victimless crime, but quite often these illegal goods can be a product of organised crime.
“Groups can supply them into the North East with the intention of making money, which enables them to then continue to fund illicit activities.
“We make no apology for our zero-tolerance stance when tackling serious and organised crime under the banner of Operation Sentinel, 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 https://keep-it-out.co.uk/