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Sniffer Dogs Follow Their Noses to Massive Illicit Tobacco Haul

A joint operation between Waltham Forest Council Trading Standards and HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) uncovered a haul of illicit goods including over 16,000 cigarettes, 2kg of rolling tobacco and even a stash of Viagra tablets.


The operation using sniffer dogs took place on Thursday 3 September 2015, following intelligence gathered previously about premises selling non-duty paid foreign cigarettes.


The sniffer dogs found 14,300 illicit foreign cigarettes at Food & Wine (168 Hoe Street, Walthamstow), which had been cunningly concealed among canned drinks and on shelving behind sweets and chocolate. The dogs were not to be denied, despite the owner spraying disinfectant in a desperate attempt to throw them off the scent.


At Asya Food Centre (13 St James’ Street, Walthamstow) the sniffer dogs tracked down 2440 foreign cigarettes and 2kg of rolling tobacco – all non-duty paid and hidden behind the stock room at the rear of the shop.


Trading Standards Officers also seized over 400 boxes of Sildenafil Citrate tablets (sold as Viagra) which were found on display for sale behind the shop counter. Viagra is a prescription drug that cannot be sold over the counter. The matter has been referred to the Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency.


The tobacco found in both shops was seized by HMRC, who will take appropriate enforcement action. Trading Standards will now work with the Council’s Licencing Department to determine how this will affect the shop’s licences.


“The owners of these shops will have their tails between their legs after a visit from the sniffer dogs”, said Cllr Clyde Loakes, Deputy Leader and Cabinet Member for Environment. “Joking aside the amount of illegal goods seized during this operation is quite shocking, and we’ll do everything in our power to stamp it out in Waltham Forest. I hope this serves as a warning to any trader who thinks they can brazenly flout the law to make a quick buck.


“Tobacco smuggling represents a significant threat to public health, and undermines the national drive to reduce smoking, especially amongst young people. It also affects legitimate retailers who struggle to cope with cheap prices, not to mention the links with large scale crime.”


No illicit tobacco was found at the four other premises visited as part of this operation. Each was given advice and information by Trading Standards and HMRC officers.


For further information or to report the sale of illegal tobacco contact Waltham Forest Trading Standards on 020 8496 3000.


If you would like more information about any of these press releases or have a different media enquiry please contact us at media@walthamforest.gov.uk or on 020 8496 3000.