Police and council officers joined forces to seize a huge haul of over 6,500 cigarettes and tobacco believed to be being sold on illegally in a house raid.
Durham County Council's consumer protection team removed 6,640 cigarettes and 2.5kg of hand rolling tobacco - with a street value of over £1,500 - from a property at Kimblesworth, just outside Durham City, on Tuesday.
The raid comes on the back of officers having seized more than 450,000 illicit cigarettes since April last year, with a street value combined with confiscated tobacco in excess of £80,000.
The consumer protection team obtained a search warrant from magistrates to carry out a raid on the house, which was suspected to be connected with the supply of illicit tobacco.
Assisted by Durham Constabulary’s Chester-le-Street neighbourhood policing team, officers seized the cigarettes and tobacco, which are believed to be counterfeit, from inside.
It is believed the items were being sold from the house illegally, for £3.50 for a pack of cigarettes and £7 for a pouch of tobacco.
A woman was interviewed by consumer protection officers on suspicion of selling counterfeit tobacco and tobacco not displaying the required health labelling.
Joint operations with Durham Constabulary since April 1 2015 have seen the consumer protection team seize 456,320 illicit cigarettes and 28.15kg of counterfeit hand rolling tobacco, with a combined street value of £84,000.
Joanne Waller, head of environment, health and consumer protection, said: “Our work to rid the supply of illicit tobacco at all levels in the supply chain continues unabated.
“The sale of these illegal cigarettes sidesteps the controls that lawful businesses have in place to uphold age of sale laws and undermines the work of the stop smoking services.
“This illegal source of cheap tobacco encourages a whole new generation of young smokers and provides little incentive or motivation for other smokers to quit.
“There will be no hiding place for those who continue to flout the law and indulge in this criminal activity.”
Anyone with information on suspected counterfeit goods sales, such as tobacco, cigarettes, clothing, trainers, and alcohol, should contact the Consumer Helpline on 03454 04 05 06.