ILLICIT cigarettes and tobacco worth more than £24,000 have been taken off the streets after raids by Rotherham Trading Standards and the police.
The illegal items were seized from three properties in Ferham and Wath after officers received intelligence and made undercover test purchases.
The officers found more than 38,000 illegal cigarettes and 155 packs of hand rolling tobacco during raids late last month, as well as cash believed to have been obtained through criminal activity, a council spokeswoman said.
The majority of the items had been hidden in various places throughout the properties but were quickly uncovered by sniffer dogs, added the spokeswoman.
She said the products had not been produced or packaged for legal sale in the UK and were likely to fail UK safety regulations that required cigarettes to self-extinguish in order to reduce the risk of house fires.
Investigations are ongoing and officers will now be working to bring legal action against those involved, the spokeswoman said.
Rotherham Council’s assistant director for community safety and street scene, Tom Smith said: “The officers concerned with this operation should take credit for the significant impact that they are having in protecting the interests of Rotherham residents by disrupting the activities of those who chose to operate outside the law.
“As well as affecting legitimate local retailers, the sale of illegal tobacco makes it easier for children to get hold of cheap tobacco and undermines the wider government efforts to reduce smoking.
“We would urge all members of the public to report criminal activity in their neighbourhoods so we can take action to prevent it.”
Anyone who wishes to report concerns around suspect cigarettes should contact the Citizens Advice Consumer Service on 0808 223 1133 or online at www.citizensadvice.org.uk/consumer/get-more-help/report-to-trading-standards.