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Trading standards seize illicit wine and tobacco from shops

Sniffer dogs from Wagtail UK were used to ferret out cigarettes and tobacco in a joint operation by Milton Keynes Council’s Trading Standards, Licensing and Public Health teams and HM Revenue and Customs.

Investigators found more than 1,000 bottles of wine, more than 11,000 cigarettes and 85 pouches of tobacco when they raided six stores in MK.

Problems included:

  • Foreign labelling on some of the cigarettes and tobacco, including the health warnings;
  • Some of the cigarettes, were also labelled ‘for duty free sale only’;
  • Strong suspicions that, because it was being sold cheaply, no duty had been paid on the wine either.

The council’s head of regulatory services Neil Allen said: “It is disappointing that premises in Milton Keynes appear to have been selling cheap illicit cigarettes, tobacco and alcohol. This has an impact on the businesses that trade legitimately within the law, and pay the duty. 

“We will continue to work with our partner agencies and take action against businesses that infringe the law.”

Anthony Swarbrick, HMRC’s assistant director, fraud investigation service, said: “The sale of illegal tobacco and alcohol will not be tolerated by us or our partner agencies. Disrupting criminal trade is at the heart of our strategy to clampdown on the illicit tobacco market, which costs the UK around £2.1 billion a year, and the sale of illicit alcohol which costs the UK around £1 billion per year.

“This is theft from the taxpayer and undermines legitimate traders.”

Four of the six stores were found to be in possession of illicit tobacco and/or alcohol. A total  

11,440 cigarettes, 85 pouches of tobacco and 1,228 bottles of wine were seized.

The total revenue suspected as not paid on the cigarettes, tobacco and the wine amounts to around £9,172.

These offences are currently being investigated by Trading Standards and HMRC. 

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