Ipswich: Black market cigarettes including Jin Ling cigarettes, which are not legally available in the UK, seized in crackdown on convenience stores
PUBLISHED: 15:05 24 February 2014 | UPDATED: 15:05 24 February 2014
Black market cigarettes and tobacco have been seized after four shops were targeted in Ipswich.
The seizures were made during the joint operation between HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) officers and Suffolk trading standards officers.
During the operation contraband was found in a concealed unit in one of the convenience stores.
A total of 1,680 cigarettes and 700 grams of hand rolling tobacco with an estimated duty loss of £1,500 were discovered during the visits.
Although a relatively small number of illegal goods were found, it is not unusual when officers visit stores suspected of selling black market cigarettes.
Often the shopkeepers only keep enough stock for the sales they expect to make on one day. The contraband is then replenished on a daily basis by their suppliers.
In one of the shops targeted officers found Jin Ling cigarettes, a brand not legally available in the UK.
The cigarettes were found after officers uncovered a hidden compartment in the bottom of a cigarette display unit.
In the past smokers looking for a bargain have been warned not to buy the bootleg brand of cigarettes from Russia, after it was found to contain asbestos.
At the time Jin Ling cigarettes were said to be twice as strong as an ordinary cigarettes.
Many of those tested were revealed to contain toxins such as industrial chemicals and asbestos-lined Chinese drywall.
The brand is specifically created for the black market.
After the latest seizures, Paul Barton, Assistant Director Criminal Investigation, HMRC, said: “This operation is part of our ongoing activities to find and seize smuggled cigarettes and tobacco that are on sale illegally in the Ipswich area. Shops that trade in illicit tobacco products have an unfair advantage over legitimate traders who play by the rules.”
“These illegal products are unregulated and their contents can be harmful. If you know of anyone selling smuggled goods you can report them by calling HMRC’s 24 hour hotline on 0800 59 5000.”
Councillor Colin Spence, Suffolk County Council’s cabinet member for public protection, said: “It’s a credit to the organisations involved to see illegal smuggled goods found and seized.
“Making sure these illegal goods do not go on sale in Suffolk is for the safety of the public.
“Trading Standards is constantly on the look out for counterfeit tobacco and alcohol alongside other unsafe products or misdescribed food which could be harmful.”