May 9, 2022 6.00 pm

Illegal cigarettes found in crisp boxes seized in Gainsborough

“The presence of small quantities of food was just a façade”

Two stores in Gainsborough have had thousands of illicit cigarettes seized by trading standards as part of a pre-planned intelligence operation.

The raids were carried out on Tuesday, April 26, uncovering illegal hauls of tobacco and cigarettes in two Gainsborough shops.

One store had the cigarettes stored away in food boxes, while the other hid them under the counter. Combined, the two raids saw thousands of illegal tobacco seized by Lincolnshire County Council’s Trading Standards.

Thousands of illicit tobacco products were taken from the stores. | Photo: West Lindsey District Council

Searches were conducted as part of a pre-panned, intelligence led, multi-agency operation involving officers from Trading Standards, West Lindsey District Council and Lincolnshire Police.

The store that kept the cigarettes in food boxes was accused of using small food quantities as a “façade to hide the true purpose of the shop” by Trading Standards.

One of the stores hid cigarettes underneath the counter. | Photo: West Lindsey District Council

Councillor Owen Bierley, leader of West Lindsey District Council and chairman of the Prosperous Communities Committee, said: “One of the ways to support legitimate businesses is by targeting those involved in criminal activity. This is about levelling the playing field for legitimate local businesses who cannot compete with their criminal competitors.

“Shops selling dangerous and illegal products contribute nothing to the local community or economy and this sort of activity will be met head on.

“Having the three partner agencies working together on an operation like this gives us the opportunity to identify numerous potential offences, share intelligence and cause as much disruption as possible to the criminals involved in this activity.”

If you know anything about illegal tobacco products being sold, call Crimestoppers on 0800 555111 or report it online.

West Lindsey District Council has been contacted to find out the names of the shops raided and the exact number of cigarettes seized.