Herald Express (Torbay, Brixham & South Hams Edition)

Black-market vapes and tobacco worth £160k netted in raid

- By SHANNON BROWN shannon.brown@reachplc.com @DevonLiveN­ews

IILLEGAL tobacco and vapes valued at more than £160,000 have been seized during a raid in South Devon.

The joint operation, carried out by Trading Standards and Devon and Cornwall Police, uncovered more than 18,000 illegal tobacco products from a rural site in the South Hams.

Some 2,000 illegal vapes were seized by officers. The total amount recovered was worth around £166,000, according to police. A number of suspected counterfei­t goods, non-duty paid tobacco products and non-UK compliant vapes – illegal to be sold – were also seized.

Inspector Ben Shardlow, who heads the neighbourh­ood police teams in South Hams, said: “These illegal goods do not go through regulated safety testing and quality control procedures like the legal products that are sold in the UK do, which means we don’t know what’s in them.

“Carrying out this proactive warrant shows great partnershi­p working and has resulted in identifyin­g a significan­t amount of illegal goods – it is positive we were able to remove a large amount from the streets and circulatio­n.”

He continued: “I’d like to urge members of the public to report concerns to us so we can continue to disrupt illegal and criminal activity, just as we have done in the South Hams. Your reports and informatio­n really do make a difference in our investigat­ions.”

Councillor Rufus Gilbert, Devon County Council’s cabinet member for trading standards, added: “The removal of illegal tobacco and vapes from entering the marketplac­e is a high priority for us, and this was yet another successful operation.

“The service uses detection dogs during operations, so regardless of where it is hidden, in a storage container or retail premises, the dogs have the ability to sniff out even small quantities of tobacco that are hidden from view.

“Retail outlets that sell counterfei­t and illicit tobacco are big business and these shops can undercut other local general stores who are trying to operate legally during difficult economic conditions.

“Because the tobacco is sold at pocket money prices by criminals who are not interested in asking for proof of age, it encourages children and young people to start smoking.

“Illegal tobacco products also present a genuine health risk above and beyond that of legal tobacco, as they aren’t subject to the same quality control checks and are often found to contain high level of contaminat­es.”

 ?? Devon & Cornwall Police ?? ⟫The illegal vapes and tobacco seized in the South Hams
Devon & Cornwall Police ⟫The illegal vapes and tobacco seized in the South Hams

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