Sniffer dogs find thousands of illegal cigarettes under manhole cover

cigarette raid beccles

The Wagtail tobacco detection dog finding tobacco under a manhole cover - Credit: Suffolk Police

More than 12,000 illegal cigarettes have been seized as part of a trading standards crackdown in north Suffolk — with some being sniffed out from inside a manhole and others hidden in a bin.

Tobacco detection dogs sniffed out more than 12,000 cigarettes at three shops in Lowestoft and Beccles. 

More than 8,000 cigarettes and eight kilograms of tobacco were found under a manhole cover in the rear of one of the premises in central Lowestoft.

A total of 12,440 cigarettes and 18.45kg of tobacco were seized by Suffolk Trading Standards from the three stores.

cigarette raid beccles

Part of the 12,000 cigarettes found in the raids - Credit: Suffolk Police

All of which are suspected to have been illegally brought into the UK, not complying with legal packaging and labelling requirements and without duty being paid.

They are suspected to be counterfeits of popular brands, which are likely to contain harmful substances and may not self-extinguish. 

The seized cigarettes will be assessed to determine the exact offences committed as investigations continue.

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With the stores targeted in Lowestoft and Beccles last Wednesday, September 15, a Suffolk County Council spokesman said: "Each of the premises had previously, in the months before the raids, been visited by covert officers and all sold illegal tobacco to those officers.

"Intelligence suggesting that illegal tobacco was being sold had been received from members of the public and the police for each premise."

Sniffer dog illegal cigarettes seized Lowestoft

The sniffer dog discovering the cigarettes hidden under a manhole cover in central Lowestoft. - Credit: Suffolk Trading Standards

In one central Lowestoft store 8060 cigarettes and 8.4kg of hand rolled tobacco – hidden under a manhole cover - was recovered.

Another central Lowestoft store saw 2080 cigarettes and 7.3kg of hand rolled tobacco seized from the gantry of the premises.

Cigarettes illegal recovered bin Beccles store

The cigarettes and hand rolled tobacco found hidden in a bin at a store in Beccles. - Credit: Suffolk Trading Standards

In Beccles, 2300 cigarettes and 2.75 kg of hand rolled tobacco was recovered from a store, after it was found hidden in a bin.

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Andrew Reid, Suffolk County Council's cabinet member for public health, public protection and communities, said: “Far from being a victimless crime, illegal tobacco trading creates a cheap source for children and young people, undermines the reduction of smoking, and affects the trade of legitimate retailers.

"The sale of illegal tobacco is also linked to organised crime which results in dealers going to extreme lengths and using very sophisticated methods to hide the tobacco products from trading standards.”

If you suspect someone is selling illegal tobacco in Suffolk, please report it to the Citizens Advice Consumer Service on 0808 223 1133.

The Suffolk Trading Standards operation was supported by Suffolk Police, Norfolk Trading Standards, and Wagtail UK.