ILLEGAL cigarettes and tobacco worth £46,000 have been seized in Salford.
In the bedroom of a home raided by Greater Manchester Police, nearly 68,000 counterfeit cigarettes and more than 150 pouches of hand-rolling tobacco were discovered.
The haul, with an estimated street value of £40,000 is the single biggest stash of illicit tobacco ever recovered in Salford.
Councillor David Lancaster has warned that shopkeepers selling illegal tobacco will be subject to further investigation.
He said: “There are no bargains to be had when it comes to illegal tobacco.”
In one shop in Salford, officers found dozens of packets of counterfeit cigarettes hidden in a secret compartment behind a shelf full of soft drinks.
Salford Council officers, and sniffer dogs Ricco, Lilly, Birch and Billy visited 25 businesses and one residential address as part of this year’s Keep it Out campaign against illegal and counterfeit tobacco.
The raids took place over the last few weeks in Swinton, Eccles and Little Hulton.
No further details are available at this time due to ongoing investigations.
Councillor Lancaster added: “This trade is linked to organised crime gangs who also deal in human trafficking, loan sharking and the drugs trade.
“Illegal tobacco is also robbing the public purse of much needed revenue for vital services including the NHS and these products are often targeted at young people, getting them hooked on smoking and damaging their health.”
In total from all the raids, officers seized 4,567 packets containing 91,340 cigarettes and 256 x 50g pouches of hand rolling tobacco all of which were counterfeit or non-duty paid and with an estimated street value of £45,967.
A crackdown on illegal tobacco is part of Greater Manchester’s strategy to cut smoking rates by a third by the end of 2021, which would equate to 115,000 fewer smokers in the region.
Anyone who has concerns or information can report it anonymously by visiting keep-it-out.co.uk or by calling Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.