Illicit tobacco and alcohol seized in series of raids
Published: Tuesday 27th March 18
Trading standards officers in Wandsworth have taken part in a series of raids carried out by HM Revenue and Customs officials to disrupt the sale and supply of illegal tobacco and alcohol in the borough.
Four shops in Tooting were targeted as part of a co-ordinated series of raids covering retailers in Lambeth, Croydon and Sutton selling goods on which no tax has been paid.
Typically these items are smuggled into the UK from overseas without paying duty, thus depriving the public purse of billions of pounds a year.
In Tooting the HMRC investigators seized 5,800 cigarettes, 1kg of hand-rolling tobacco, 42kg of chewing tobacco, 85.5kg of shisha, 10.7kg of oral snuff and 672 litres of beer.
Across south London the raids netted 49,180 cigarettes, 2.15 kilos of hand-rolling tobacco and 731 litres of alcohol, along with other items and £2,600 in cash.
The estimated loss to the exchequer in unpaid duty and VAT was more than £30,000.
Chris Gill, assistant director of HMRC’s fraud investigation service said: “The sale of illegal tobacco and alcohol will not be tolerated by us or our partner agencies. Disrupting criminal trade is at the heart of our strategy to clampdown on the illicit tobacco market, which costs the UK around £2.5 billion a year, and the sale of illicit alcohol which costs the UK around £1.3 billion per year. This is theft from the taxpayer and undermines legitimate traders.
“We encourage anyone with information about the illegal sale of tobacco or alcohol to report it online at http://www.hmrc.gov.uk/reportingfraud/online.htm or call the Fraud Hotline on 0800 788 887.”
Paul Browne, Wandsworth Council’s Licensing and Trading Standards Manager said: “We fully supported this crackdown on the sale of illegal tobacco and alcohol as part of our ongoing efforts to ensure a level playing field for legitimate traders.
“This type of criminality often involves much more than just simple tax evasion, as the criminal gangs who distribute these goods use the profits to help finance more serious crimes such as people trafficking for the purposes of prostitution and modern day slavery.”