Cache of 20,000 illegal cigarettes found in Mansfield

.Mark Hughes of trading standards with counterfeit cigarettes
.Mark Hughes of trading standards with counterfeit cigarettes

ORGANISED crime could be behind a cache of 20,000 fake and non-duty paid cigarettes found in Mansfield, officials fear.

The haul was uncovered in a raid along with 10kg of rolling tobacco, making it the biggest recent seizure of its kind in the county.

Nottinghamshire County Council Trading Standards, customs officials and police combined in an operation at a Mansfield address and are questioning a 52-year-old man.

Officers said the size of the find, which would have a retail value of more than £10,000, suggests an organised gang could ultimately be responsible at the head of a chain for putting it onto the town’s streets.

Said Trading Standards team leader Mark Hughes: “It’s difficult to say how big the overall problem is.

“But in the past we know that there have been links to organised criminal gangs in terms of counterfeit products.

“It’s early days (in the investigation) but this will not just be providing pocket money for someone.”

The haul includes fakes of genuine brands Golden Virginia tobacco and Regal cigarettes, plus Hoop and Jin Ling brands which are manufactured abroad for smuggling into the UK with no duty paid.

Mr Hughes warned the products should not be smoked as besides being illegal their production and contents is unregulated and may be dangerous.

Anyone who has tobacco they are concerned about should contact consumer direct on 08454 040506.