Lincoln raids recover 38k illegal cigarettes from city shops

Four men were arrested and after police raided businesses on Portland Street and High Street in Lincoln, finding 38,000 illegal cigarettes.

Officers from Lincolnshire Police Alcohol Licensing Department and Lincolnshire County Council Trading Standards Department raided a number of shops in Lincoln over the past week.

The shops targeted were suspected of being involved in the selling of Illegal Cigarettes and Tobacco Products.

Stokrotka and International Foods on Portland Street, Lincoln were raided on Monday, November 3. Two men were arrested and 30,000 illegal cigarettes were seized.

European Foods, High Street, Lincoln, was raided on Thursday, November 6. Two men were arrested during this raid and 8,000 cigarettes were seized.

Cigarettes were found hidden under the floorboards.

Cigarettes were found hidden under the floorboards.

The raids are part of a long running operation. Acting on intelligence supplied by members of the local community, Police and Trading Standards officers have been gathering evidence for a number of weeks which culminated in the arrests and seizures.

During the raids, officers discovered the cigarettes concealed in hidden compartments in the floor and in freezers, outside in wheelies bins and outhouses.

The initial test carried out by Trading Standards Officers on the seized products suggests they are a combination of foreign brands smuggled into the country and counterfeit brands.

Smuggled goods cost the economy millions in revenue each year, whilst the counterfeit brands present a danger to public health.

They are manufactured in make shift factories and have been found to contain sawdust, asbestos and human excrement.

Some of these cigarettes also fail to self-extinguish, so present a further risk to public safety when left in ashtrays or discarded in the street.

Sergeant Kim Enderby from the Alcohol Licensing Department said: “I would like to thank the members of our local community in Lincoln for coming forward with this information and would actively encourage members of the public, wherever you live in the County, to report criminal behaviour of this type, either by reporting directly to your local police on 101 or through Crimestoppers.

“Organised Criminal Gangs are behind the manufacturing, smuggling, distribution and sale of illegal tobacco products.

“It is a multi-million pound activity with the funds being used to finance other criminal activity. Lincolnshire Police and Trading Standards are committed to the investigation and will be conducting similar operations in the weeks ahead.”