Contraband cigarettes, drugs and money laundering have been targeted in a series of raids by police and customs officers in Burnley and neighbouring towns.
The joint operation to tackle the supply of contraband tobacco which saw five warrants carried out in Burnley, Nelson and Brierfield, was also aimed at disrupting the supply of drugs and money laundering into the county.
Warrants were carried out on Wednesday at addresses in Hind Street, Burnley, Cleaver Street, Burnley, Colne Road, Earby, and a shipping container at Waterford Street, Nelson.
A 19-year-old man from Burnley was arrested on suspicion of money laundering and has been released on police bail.
During the subsequent searches a significant amount of counterfeit cigarettes was found with a street value of well over £180,000. Approximately 40 boxes containing counterfeit alcohol and illegal tobacco were also seized. Det. Insp Simon Upton said: “Over the last few months we have been receiving information that drugs and contraband cigarettes and tobacco have been brought into Lancashire and are being sold on from various premises.
“We suspect this illegal activity also involves money laundering and the exchange of large sums of cash. Today’s warrants are just the latest stage of this investigation which is aimed at disrupting this illegal activity.
“Lancashire Constabulary will always take positive action against organised crime groups who are committing crime in the county and this demonstrates our determination to crack down on those who seek to profit from crime.”
Sandra Smith, assistant director criminal investigation at Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs, said: “This operation highlights the importance of our continued partnership with Lancashire Police and other police forces across the UK to help stamp out organised crime.
“The sale and supply of duty free tobacco goods is a serious criminal offence, the profits of which help to fund the activities of many criminal gangs.
“Smuggling crime also costs the taxpayer millions in lost and unpaid revenue each year.”