Working jointly alongside Trading Standards, more than 650,000 illegal cigarettes and packets of tobacco have been seized in the past six months across Hull and the East Riding.
Our tobacco dogs and local policing teams along with officers from Trading Standards have searched hundreds of premises using intelligence we’ve gathered. These include houses, businesses, and vehicles.
During the searches, illegal goods have been found hidden in all sorts of different places. These include in the top of fridges, behind false shelves, behind remote controlled walls, inside food containers, buried in gardens, inside false drawers or around door frames.
HM Revenue and Customs have brought their own prosecutions, and six shops have been closed because of suspected criminal activity.
The shops that were closed were on Beverley Road, Hessle Road and Anlaby Road in Hull.
Licensing PC Karen Walker said: “It has been a challenge to find some of these hiding places where illegal goods are being stashed.
“It might seem like we’re just taking cheap cigs, tobacco and booze off the streets but these are not victimless crimes.
“Cheap smuggled illegal and counterfeit cigarettes and alcohol can be bought at pocket money prices, and can therefore be alluring to vulnerable children for instance.
“They can also cause and contribute to drink related crime, disorder and antisocial behaviour in the areas where these items are being sold.
“We’re also finding and are investigating possible links to more serious criminality involving organised crime gangs and people trafficking.
“We’re pleased that honest and responsible landlords who are notified of crimes at their premises have worked with us taken action, and have terminated some leases. This has in turn shut businesses down or has led to them having their licences being revoked.
“This co-operation has prevented any further criminal activity being committed at the premises.
“Our actions sends a stark warning to those involved in supplying cheap illicit tobacco and alcohol that we’ll seek every avenue to disrupt them.
"If you have any information or suspicions about criminal behaviour going on in your community, please contact us on 101, 999 in an emergency, or the independent charity Crimestoppers if you want to remain anonymous."