Shopkeeper arrested after illegal tobacco seized

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A Burnley shopkeeper has been arrested after an inspection by Lancashire County Council Trading Standards Service and Lancashire Constabulary uncovered a large haul of illegal tobacco.

120 packs of illicit cigarettes and tobacco were seized from the off-licence in the Colne Road area during the operation on April 2nd.

Some of the haul, which included counterfeit copies of well-known brands such as Marlboro, Mayfair, Amber Leaf and Golden Virginia, was found in a cellar, hidden from view by a carefully-placed carpet on the shop floor. The rest was found in the trader’s car.

A 31-year-old man was arrested to allow further investigations to take place.

Along with the tobacco, a notebook appearing to record thousands of pounds worth of sales, was discovered.

The inspection took place following alerts from members of the public who suspected illegal activity was taking place at the shop.

Paul Noone, chief officer for Lancashire County Council Trading Standards Service, said: “This seizure is the third from shops in Burnley since the start of the year.

“The availability of cheap illegal tobacco contributes to keeping smoking rates high in East Lancashire, while surveys show a higher percentage of child smokers buy illicit tobacco than adult smokers.

“I hope this successful operation sends a clear message that such activity will not be tolerated and that we will act when people report their suspicions.”

Consumers who suspect they have seen counterfeit or otherwise illegal goods on sale can report them by calling the Consumer Direct hotline on 0845 600 1352.