Eight men were arrested and 11 premises searched during a multi-agency operation in Manchester on Wednesday 24 February.

HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) officers seized material in relation to suspected tax evasion, including 137,600 cigarettes, 73 kilos of tobacco, counterfeit cash, and four vehicles, during searches of nine retail, one domestic address and one storage container in the Strangeways, Cheetham Hill and Bury areas. Nearly 50,000 individual doses of unlicensed medicines were also seized.

The HMRC-led operation included officers from Greater Manchester Police (GMP), Manchester and Salford City Councils’ Trading Standards teams, Immigration Enforcement, the Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency (MHRA), and the Intellectual Property Office (IPO). The enforcement activity involves investigations into a number of suspected offences, including tax evasion, smuggling, immigration and counterfeiting.

Two men, aged 30 and 62, were arrested by HMRC on suspicion of tax evasion and have been released on bail pending further enquiries. Three of the men arrested have been detained pending their removal from the UK and three have been granted temporary release while their cases are progressed. They will have to report regularly to the Home Office during this time.

Trading Standards filled two 40ft containers with the counterfeit goods seized on the operation. The goods seized had an estimated normal retail value of £2m. The counterfeit items included clothing, footwear, headphones, perfume, handbags and watches.