Illicit tobacco worth £18k seized in Salford shop raids

A collection of seized cigarettes Image copyright Salford City Council
Image caption More than 25,000 cigarettes were seized in the raids led by trading standards officers

Illicit cigarettes and tobacco worth more than £18,000 have been seized in raids on six convenience stores in Greater Manchester.

About 26,870 cigarettes and 247 tobacco pouches were found at the Salford shops

Salford City Council said they were a mixture of counterfeit and illegally imported cigarettes.

The raids were carried out across the city in Broughton, Swinton, Irlam and Little Hulton by the council's trading standards officers.

The council declined to identify the stores involved because "investigations are ongoing".

With the help of sniffer dogs, the products were found hidden under counters, behind footstools and stashed in store rooms.

Image copyright Salford City Council
Image caption The cigarettes and tobacco were found in various hiding places

The authority said £1,605 in cash, which was also seized, would be put back into community projects under the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002.

Councillor David Lancaster, lead member for environment and community safety, said: "Counterfeit products are even more dangerous because you don't know what the tobacco may have been cut with.

"Illegal imports not only deprive vital public health and support services of funding by not paying duty, but may also be linked with drug running and people trafficking."