Illicit tobacco and cigarettes seized at Maidstone shops

An open car boot showing hundreds of seized cigarettes in boxes

Businesses suspected of selling illicit tobacco have been inspected in a joint operation by Kent County Council's Trading Standards and Kent Police's Maidstone Neighbourhood Task Force.

On Wednesday (9 August 2023), four shops were targeted in the town centre and Fant areas.

Two premises were found to be in order while 40,000 cigarettes and 58 kilos of rolling tobacco with a combined value of £18,000 were seized at the other locations.

Clive Phillips, Operations Manager for Kent Trading Standards, said: "Working alongside Kent Police officers, we have removed a significant amount of illegal tobacco from shops in Maidstone as a result of information received. Illegal tobacco brings organised crime into the community and undermines legitimate businesses. Trading Standards urge anyone with concerns about illegal tobacco in their neighbourhood to report the matter."

The enforcement teams also checked areas outside each property and in one location, cigarettes were found concealed in a car boot.

The open back of a police van showing seized tobacco in evidence bags

Tobacco seized in joint operation

Inspector Steve Kent, of the Maidstone Community Safety Unit, said: "As part of our ongoing enforcement against organised criminal groups, my officers regularly work with Trading Standards teams to identify businesses which might be involved in illegal activity, such as money laundering and the sale of illicit tobacco and counterfeit goods. These crimes often attract anti-social behaviour and other criminal activity.

"The businesses also have a detrimental impact on legitimate local traders and our inspections will continue while the Trading Standards investigation is underway."

Further information

Shops selling illegal tobacco can be reported anonymously to Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111 or via the Stop Illegal Tobacco Hotline 0300 999 6 999.