Illegal cigarette haul

Thousands of illegal cigarettes seized from shops in Barking and Dagenham

Known as Operation CeCe, the raids took place following a test purchasing day which provided Trading Standards with the intelligence that several stores in the borough were selling illegal cigarettes.

Officers raided six businesses on Thursday 8 September and found the cigarettes being sold in all six of them, with some behind the shop counters, some in bags and others hidden in the ceiling.

To support the operation, officers were joined by two sniffer dogs and their handler from Wagtail UK.

Councillor Syed Ghani, Cabinet Member for Enforcement and Community Safety said: “These operations are so important to ensure the safety of our residents. These cigarettes are illegal for a reason, whether that be the chemicals that are in them, or the packaging being used.

“The selling of illegal cigarettes and tobacco is also often linked to organised crime and gangs, so it’s vital that we keep them off our streets.”

All six businesses are currently under further investigation and could face legal action.