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Illegal disposable vapes seized from Bensham shops

June 2, 2022

(Photo: Gateshead Council)

More than 40,000 illegal cigarettes, nearly 24kg of counterfeit tobacco and 95 illegal disposable e-cigarettes were seized from two shops in Bensham in a joint raid by council officials and police.

Officers from Gateshead Council’s Trading Standards team and Northumbria Police uncovered the haul at Whitehall Corner Shop on Rawling Road, and Ali Baba on Coatsworth Road, with the assistance of a specially trained search dog.

The vast majority of the illegal products were located within vehicles associated with the owners of the shops, as well as a quantity at a private residence, the council said. A further amount was found concealed in a hidden compartment within a stock room.

The searches took place as part of Operation CeCe, a national Trading Standards initiative in partnership with HMRC to tackle illegal tobacco.

Councillor Linda Green, Cabinet Member for Communities and Volunteering, said these raids should act as a stark warning to other retailers engaging in criminal activity.

“Gateshead Council works very closely with Northumbria Police to protect residents from criminal activity in Gateshead, and these latest raids clearly demonstrate the decisive action we will continue to take against anybody we suspect of breaking the law,” she said.

“Criminal behaviour such as this can have many detrimental effects on local communities, including increasing anti-social behaviour, and it will not be tolerated.”

Inspector Kevin Ashurst from Northumbria Police said: “We will continue to work with our partners and support them in any way we can to ensure harmful and illegal items are seized and taken out of circulation.

“Those living in our communities might not see any issues with buying counterfeit cigarettes or illegal goods, but what they might not realise is that the money made from selling goods like these are often funnelled into organised crime and used to help those breaking the law carry out further illicit activity.”