Over 62,000 illegal cigarettes seized in Erith

Lots of packs of illegal cigarettes in blue packaging.

Bexley’s Trading Standards, with the Metropolitan Police, has removed 62,940 illegal cigarettes from a grocery store in Erith during a raid last week.

The officers discovered the illicit cigarettes and hand-rolling tobacco piled high in two stock rooms behind the grocery store on Friday 10 September.

Bexley Trading Standards Officers first carried out a covert operation, acting on information from the Metropolitan Police. The officers found the store to be selling smuggled tobacco products from under the counter.

During the raid, Trading Standards Officers and Police bagged 3,147 packets of cigarettes and 42 kilogrammes of hand-rolling tobacco estimated to be worth £32,000, along with other criminal evidence.

It took officers several hours to remove 14 sacks of evidence from the two stock rooms, storage cabinets and false industrial packaging used to disguise its illegal importation into the UK.

The haul was not produced or packaged for legal sale in the UK. When tested the seized goods are likely to fail UK safety regulations that need cigarettes to self-extinguish to prevent house fires.

Councillor Peter Craske, Bexley’s Cabinet Member for Places, said:

Illicit tobacco not only harm our efforts to reduce smoking in the borough, but also presents a serious fire risk to Bexley residents. The successful seizure has made a sizable dent in the cash profits of these determined organised criminals. We will continue working with the Metropolitan Police to track down and stop the selling of smuggled and unsafe products under the counter.”

Trading Standards investigations are ongoing. Residents can report illicit tobacco sales by calling the Citizens Advice consumer helpline on 0808 223 1133.