More than £4,000 worth of illegal cigarettes have been seized by Birmingham City Council’s Trading Standards team and West Midlands Police.

The operation last week (22/07) saw more than 22,000 illegal cigarettes as well as cash seized during raids at shops in the Handsworth area. The raids were a result of reports that illegal tobacco and cigarettes were being supplied.

A search warrant was also executed to enter a flat above a shop which was suspected of being used to store the illicit products.

Officers from Trading Standards worked with local policing teams and had the assistance of a tobacco detection dog provided by Wagtail Specialist Search Dogs.

Cigarettes and cash were found concealed in various places to avoid detection. The cash is suspected to be the proceeds of the sale of illicit products. The dodgy products will be destroyed in due course.

The illegal products seized included suspected counterfeit and cheap foreign labelled smuggled products that breach consumer protection legislation and are also non-duty paid; these cannot be legally sold in the UK.

The contents of all cigarettes are harmful and contain around 4,000 different chemicals, including known carcinogens. However, as the provenance of illegal tobacco is unknown it may contain further dangerous ingredients.

Councillor Phil Davis, chair of the city council’s Licensing and Public Protection Committee, said: “The raids carried out by our Trading Standards officers have successfully taken around £4,000 worth of illegal cigarettes out of circulation.

“Those involved in dealing in illegal tobacco may be encouraging people, including children, to smoke by providing a cheap source. This activity also brings crime into our neighbourhoods, which is why it is important to clamp down on it. This also has an impact on those businesses that are trading legally.

“The detection dogs can find cash, tobacco and cigarettes even if hidden in the most unlikely places. Offenders need to know that they will face consequences if they choose to deal in these illegal products.”