Tobacco and alcohol seized in Southend

Published Tuesday, 5th June 2018

Picture of illegal cigarettes

An operation to disrupt the sale and supply of illegal tobacco and alcohol in Southend uncovered more than 35,000 cigarettes, seven kilos of hand-rolling tobacco and 1,358 litres of alcohol.

Around 30 officers from HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC), with support from Southend Trading Standards, Essex Police and detector dogs, visited 10 retail premises on Thursday 31 May 2018.

The visits, as part of HMRC’s Tobacco Taskforce activity, led to suspected illegal tobacco and alcohol products being seized from all 10 premises. This included:

  • 36,040 cigarettes, with an estimated £12,938 duty and VAT evaded
  • Seven kilos of hand-rolling tobacco, with an estimated £2,023 duty and VAT evaded
  • 1,358 litres of alcohol, with an estimated £2,428 duty and VAT evaded

Steve Bowling, Assistant Director, Fraud Investigation Service, HMRC, 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 £2.5 billion a year, and the sale of illicit alcohol which costs the UK around £1.3 billion per year. This is theft from the taxpayer and undermines legitimate traders.

“We encourage anyone with information about the illegal sale of tobacco or alcohol to report it online or call the Fraud Hotline on 0800 788 887.”

Cllr Mark Flewitt, Cabinet Member for Public Protection at Southend-on-Sea Borough Council, said: “The sale of cheap tobacco and cigarettes undermines attempts to reduce the prevalence of smoking, makes it impossible for legitimate businesses to compete, and there are also genuine fears the trade is helping to fund terrorism and organised crime in the UK and abroad.

“That is why I am so pleased our small Trading Standards team, made up of highly dedicated officers, is working with the police and HMRC to achieve such big successes like this and protect the consumer.”