OVER 1,200 packs of illegal cigarettes and tobacco have been seized from shops in Bacup and Haslingden this week as trading standards officers crack down on illicit sales.

The illegal products, which would have been worth over £14,000 if sold as genuine, were found hidden in cavities behind electronically operated sliding wall panels in two shops with more found inside a vehicle outside a third shops.

The seizures came about thanks to intelligence gathered from members of the public and from other enforcement agencies, while Lancashire County Council trading standards officers where able to inspect the premises with the aid of Lancashire Police.

Lancashire Telegraph:

County Councillor Albert Atkinson, cabinet member for technical services, rural affairs and waste management, said: "These traders had gone to some lengths to hide their haul of counterfeit tobacco.

“The sophisticated hiding places we are currently finding demonstrate the value of this illegal trade.

"Our officers often find packs stashed away in electronically operated secret compartments under counters and in walls or hidden in vehicles and storerooms.

"Cheap illicit tobacco is readily available to young people and encourages them to smoke and become addicted.

"The sale and manufacture of illegal tobacco has a negative impact on legitimate local businesses, and on our communities and young people.

“We are determined to tackle this type of crime."

This latest discovery comes following a 12-month period in which there have been 20 convictions in cases brought by Trading Standards at local courts for the supply of illicit tobacco.