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Two sniffer dogs in Gravesham lead Kent County Council to 55,000 counterfeit cigarettes

PUBLISHED: 11:40 04 February 2014 | UPDATED: 11:40 04 February 2014

Fifty-five thousand fake cigarettes, counterfeit DVDs and one arrest was the sum total of an operation by Kent County Council to crack down on smuggled items.

Six Gravesham convenience stores were visited by trading standards officers who were acting on intelligence.

The operation, which also involved Kent Police and HM Revenue and Customs officers, used two specially-trained dogs to locate the illicit tobacco.

Richard Strawson, trading standards manager, said: “We all recognise that smoking is one of the biggest causes of ill health.

“The trade in illicit tobacco makes a serious issue worse because the controls on safety standards, which apply to legitimate traders, are not carried out.

“It is for these reasons that we will continue to work to drive out this illegal trade.”

The dogs trained to detect different items, such as cash and explosives, as well as tobacco and drugs.

Bob Gaiger, a HMRC spokesman, said: “We urge people to come forward and let us know if they have information about the smuggling, sale, transport, or storage of illicit tobacco.”

More than seven kilos of tobacco and more than 1,000 cigarettes were seized from the two of the six premises - the total duty evaded is estimated at almost £2,200.

To report suspicious activity you can call the Customs Hotline on 0800 59 5000.

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