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We have seized Illicit tobacco and counterfeit vapes worth more than £6,000 at several shops in St Helens yesterday.
At around 10am officers supported by our sniffer dogs secured three stores in St Helens and a fourth store in Newton. Four other stores on Baldwin Street, Duke Street, Westfield Street and Earlestown were also searched as part of Trading Standards Operation CeCe.
Approximately £6,000 worth of counterfeit vapes and £1,000 worth of tobacco were seized from the stores. In some of the shops, officers and their sniffer dogs found the illicit tobacco hidden in hides using magnetic door locks.
Local Policing Business Crime Lead Inspector Rob Budden said: “This morning’s multi agency operation has been about targeting specific shops that are believed to be linked to the sale of illicit tobacco and counterfeit vapes in St Helens.
“Illicit products such as these carry the potential to damage public health as the chemicals added to these products aren’t monitored or licensed in any way.
“They could be exposing consumers to potentially dangerous chemicals, and we are pleased to have helped take them out of circulation.
“I hope our ongoing work and partnership with Trading Standards shows the steps we will take to remove any counterfeit goods from our stores and community.
“Whenever we receive intelligence about illegal goods, we work closely with our local police forces and partners including Trading Standards to investigate and take appropriate action. Today we have seized a range of counterfeit vapes and illicit tobacco and our activity should send a clear message to criminals that we will stop at nothing to tackle this issue and it's a priority we will continue to crack down on.
“The counterfeit goods trade isn’t a victimless crime. Often criminals use the profits to fund other organised crime, and with that often comes violence, which can have devastating effects on the local community.
“I am keen that anyone else that knows someone involved in selling illicit tobacco or counterfeit goods to get in touch so we can safely remove these products off the streets.”
Anyone that knows of any stores involved is asked to contact Merseyside Police social media desk via Twitter @MerPolCC or Facebook Merseyside Police CC. You can also call or contact the independent charity Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.