Record seizure of illegal cigarettes made from Banbury property

Seized cigarettes have estimated illegal market value between £150,000 and £200,000

Tuesday, 4th January 2022, 10:42 am
Updated Tuesday, 4th January 2022, 10:44 am

Trading standards officers from Oxfordshire County Council have made their biggest seizure of illicit cigarettes yet, smashing their previous record set just weeks earlier.

A joint operation with Thames Valley Police, on November 29, saw another residential property in Banbury being raided, resulting in the record haul of 680,380 smuggled and some suspected counterfeit cigarettes being seized. Their illegal market value is estimated at between £150,000 and £200,000. Also seized were two mobile phones and a CCTV recorder, all of which will be forensically examined.

A 37-year-old man was interviewed under caution at Banbury Police Station, and with the investigation ongoing, further suspects are expected to be interviewed.

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Sniffer dog Mostyn and the record haul of illicit cigarettes seized by Oxfordshire County Council in a joint operation with Thames Valley Police (Image from Oxfordshire County Council)

The illicit cigarettes are being stored at a secure undisclosed location.

Cllr Neil Fawcett, Oxfordshire County Council’s cabinet member for community services and safety, said: “Criminals dealing in illegal tobacco provide a cheap source of supply that can easily end up in the hands of young people whose developing lungs are particularly sensitive to the harm tobacco causes. It also encourages adults to carry on smoking, when giving up would dramatically improve their health and wealth.”

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Jody Kerman, Oxfordshire County Council’s head of trading standards, said: “This is a quite remarkable seizure and one of the biggest ever achieved by trading standards anywhere in the UK.

Some illegal tobacco products seized from the joint operation between Oxfordshire County Council and Thames Valley Police (Image from Oxfordshire County Council)

"It’s staggering that such a huge quantity of illegal cigarettes was being stored within an otherwise normal residential property in our community. There is no such thing as a safe cigarette, but it is particularly concerning that suspected counterfeit products have been detected, both in terms of public health and fire safety.”

Trading standards officers from Oxfordshire County Council made their previous biggest seizure of illicit cigarettes on October 8 2021, also from a house in Banbury. The amount seized was 44,440 cigarettes and 24,500 grams of hand-rolling tobacco.

Information from residents is vital in helping to stamp out the supply of illegal tobacco.

Reports can be made anonymously by calling 0300 999 6 999 or by visiting stop-illegal-tobacco.co.uk