Counterfeit cigarettes seized in raids in Kent

Customs officers have seized more than 350,000 counterfeit cigarettes in raids across Kent.

Large quantities of rolling tobacco, wine, beer and spirits were also confiscated in the raids on Wednesday and Thursday.

Thirty independent food stores and 11 homes in the Chatham and Gillingham areas were targeted.

Bob Gaiger, from Her Majesty's Revenue and Customs, said it was a "significant haul".

The raids uncovered 363,620 cigarettes, 154kg of rolling tobacco, 81 litres of spirits, 454 litres of beer and 11 litres of wine.

Mr Gaiger said in one newsagent officers discovered 80,000 hidden cigarettes.

"Low-cost tobacco products can often seem very attractive to local people, who believe they are buying genuine products at a knock-down price.

"Those involved are not concerned if they are selling to children and underage young people, and the illicit trade has a devastating impact on legitimate retailers and the local community."

He added that further action could be taken against shop-owners, including revoking their tobacco and alcohol licences and in some cases prosecution.

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