The smuggled and suspected counterfeit goods were discovered by Oxfordshire County Council’s trading standards officers who swooped in on the vehicle parked at Kidlington’s Watts Way car park, on Friday January 21.
The seizure was part of an operation, run jointly with the South East Regional Organised Crime Unit. It has resulted in a haul of nearly 10,000 cigarettes and over 11 kilograms of hand-rolling tobacco. Brands included suspected counterfeit Richmond and Lambert & Butler cigarettes, and illicit Cutters Choice and Golden Virginia hand-rolling tobacco.
A 62 year old man from Cheltenham was arrested and interviewed under caution at Abingdon Police Station. The investigation is ongoing.
Councillor Neil Fawcett, Oxfordshire County Council’s cabinet member for community services and safety, said: “We are serious about taking action whenever we find anyone selling illegal tobacco. Its sale not only avoids taxation –which means less money for schools, the NHS and local communities – it also undermines legitimate businesses in Oxfordshire and puts money into the hands of criminals.”
The sting took place under Operation CeCe, a national trading standards initiative in partnership with HMRC, which is playing a significant role in disrupting the illicit trade and helping to take illegal tobacco products off the streets.
Jody Kerman, Oxfordshire County Council’s head of trading standards, said: "We know that Oxfordshire is well on its way to being an illegal tobacco free zone in shops, which is very positive, but sadly illegal tobacco continues to be sold in other ways across the county. Information from the public is vital and we will continue to follow up on any intelligence received, which can be reported in the strictest confidence.”
Reports can be made anonymously by calling 0300 999 6 999 or visiting stop-illegal-tobacco.co.uk