More than one million cigarettes and 2,000 litres of alcohol have been seized after officers from HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC), with support from Oldham, Rochdale, Salford, and Trafford Council Trading Standards and Greater Manchester Police, visited 25 retail premises and self storage units this week.
The visits, as part of HMRC’s Tobacco Taskforce activity, led to tobacco and alcohol products being seized from 17 premises. This included 1,240,268 cigarettes, with £278,000 duty and VAT evaded, 68.95kg of hand-rolling and shisha tobacco, with £12,000 duty and VAT evaded, and 2,016.50 litres of alcohol, with £10,000 duty and VAT evaded.
One person was arrested and interviewed at Longsight Police Station under caution by HMRC officers and has been bailed pending further enquiries. Three further shop keepers will be reported for prosecution.
Sandra Smith, assistant director, criminal investigation, 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 £2bn a year, and the sale of illicit alcohol which costs the UK around £1bn a year. This is theft from the taxpayer and undermines legitimate traders.
“Some of the hiding places used by retailers to conceal these goods in Ardwick in particular were very sophisticated. We encourage anyone with information about the illegal sale of tobacco or alcohol to contact the Customs Hotline on 0800 595000.”