Police find 30,000 illegal cigarettes in operations across Castleford and Wakefield

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Tens of thousands of suspected illegal cigarettes have been seized in Castleford this week.

Police and West Yorkshire Trading Standards are continuing to investigate after seizing up to 30,000 suspected illegal cigarettes.

West Yorkshire Trading Standards Service'David Lodge, head of WYTS.

West Yorkshire Trading Standards Service'David Lodge, head of WYTS.

They carried out operations at four separate premises in Castleford on Monday.

The teams used a passive drugs dog jointly funded by West Yorkshire Trading Standards and Wakefield Council, in the searches.

Between them, the agencies seized the cigarettes from three off licences and a vehicle linked to one of the premises.

Nothing was found in a fourth premises.

The teams also searched two premises in Wakefield and discovered a quantity of concealed illicit tobacco in one of them and a smaller quantity at another.

Sergeant Mark Thorold of the police licensing team, said: “Police licensing officers and colleagues from Trading Standards executed a number of searches resulting in us seizing what is clearly a very significant quantity of suspected illegal cigarettes.

“The organisations who make these illegal cigarettes available for sale can often be linked to organised crime and this is a far from victimless crime.

“I want to thank colleagues from the Wakefield Central Neighbourhood Police Team for their excellent support during these operations, which also benefitted hugely from the deployment of the passive tobacco dog.

“We will now be conducting a full criminal investigation regarding the significant seizures made from three off licences in Castleford and will be continuing work under the licensing act.”

David Lodge, head of West Yorkshire Trading Standards (pictured), said, “Far from being a victimless crime, the illegal trade in tobacco costs government millions each year in lost revenue, makes it easier for children to start smoking, takes advantage of cash-strapped families, and helps fund organised crime.

“Members of the public should recognise the adverse health, economic and social impacts of the illicit trade of tobacco products, including the linkages with human trafficking.”