A large quantity of counterfeit and illicit cigarettes and tobacco were seized by Halton Borough Council Trading Standards Officers, from a Widnes retailer last week.

Operation Fastnet saw Trading Standards Officers join forces with police officers from Widnes Local Policing Unit to target a prolific seller of counterfeit and illicit tobacco.

The trader was involved in selling the goods from a social media Facebook account and also from a retail premises in Widnes.

More than 16,000 cigarettes were seized, worth £7,500, along with £12,000 in cash – believed to be proceeds from the criminality.

In addition the trader’s van used to distribute the counterfeit tobacco and two top of the range mobile phones were seized.

Halton Borough Council’s Executive Board Member for Trading Standards, Cllr Dave Cargill. said: “Obviously this case is the subject of an ongoing investigation and therefore, there is only so much information we can divulge.

“The targeted operation was a result of excellent partnership work with Widnes Police and it highlights how different agencies can work together to reach a common goal.

“In this case to remove a significant amount of counterfeit tobacco from the market place, whilst disrupting the illegal gains obtained by criminals.

“We are keen for Halton residents to understand the serious safety implications involved when buying cheap counterfeit cigarettes.

“Genuine cigarettes are designed to self-extinguish when left unpuffed, generally referred to as reduced ignition propensity cigarettes.

“Whereas counterfeit cigarettes, and even some cheap imports, will continue to burn with a higher propensity to cause a house fire resulting in fatalities.”

Councillor Cargill added, ‘We have a duty to protect the health of the residents of Halton and so it is important that Trading Standards Officers actively pursue those involved in the sale of counterfeit and illicit cigarettes and tobacco.

“I would urge residents to speak up if they know or suspect someone is involved in selling counterfeit goods, all it takes is a brief anonymous phone call.”

If you have any information relating to the sale of illicit cigarettes tobacco or alcohol then you can report it anonymously on the Halton Trading Standards Hotline for Alcohol and Tobacco on 0151 511 8787.

This is a reporting voicemail facility only and any information provided can be left anonymously, however, please provide enough information to identify those involved and if you want feedback, your contact details too.

Remember all other trading standards matters can be reported in the usual manner via the Citizens Advice Consumer Helpline on 03454 040506.

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