Over a million counterfeit and illegal cigarettes, 71 kilograms of tobacco and around one kilogram of cannabis have been discovered following searches of self-storage containers in Lincoln.
A joint operation between Lincolnshire Trading Standards, Lincolnshire Police Alcohol Licensing Team and a Wagtail Dogs team visited Anglia Self Storage on Great Northern Terrace on Monday and emerged with their biggest ever seizure of counterfeit and illicit goods.
Acting on intelligence gathered over the last few months, Operation Aglet focused on 15 storage units rented by certain individuals and businesses.
It is believed the illegal cigarettes had a street value of close to £250,000 and were destined for sale at premises in Lincoln. Legitimate cigarettes in the same quantity would cost over £600,000.
Principal Trading Standards officer Andy Wright said: “This is the biggest seizure of counterfeit or illicit cigarettes ever made in Lincolnshire. The quantities are huge.
“We are conducting investigations and will instigate criminal proceedings where appropriate. Our initial enquiries suggest the storage is linked to only two individuals and a handful of shops on High Street and Portland Street in Lincoln.
“We will continue to commit what resources we can to combat this illegal trade of counterfeit, unsafe products. People in Lincolnshire have died as a consequence of house fires caused by these types of cigarettes, and shops selling them create an unfair advantage over legitimate law abiding businesses.
“This seizure was the result of proactive work by my officers, however information from members of the public can make a huge difference and I would urge anyone with information to contact us.”
Sergeant Kim Enderby, Alcohol Licensing Manager for Lincolnshire Police added: “This was another example of a really successful piece of partnership working between Trading Standards and Lincolnshire Police’s Alcohol Licensing Team.
“The seizure of this quantity of cigarettes is sure to have a real effect on the criminals involved in the distribution and sale of these items. We also seized nearly a kilo of cannabis, which clearly demonstrates that the individuals involved in the trade of illegal cigarettes are also involved in other criminal activity.”