Tens of thousands of illegal vapes and cigarettes have been seized in a multi-agency operation to smoke out funding for organised crime in Kirklees.
West Yorkshire Trading Standards and officers from the Kirklees Town Centre Teams seized in excess of 3,000 illegal vapes worth between £35,000 and £40,000 as well as 77,420 cigarettes in twin operations in Huddersfield and Dewsbury.
In operations at multiple shops in both towns on July 18 and August 8 multi-agency teams also seized 235 50g pouches of hand rolling tobacco, 80 counterfeit perfumes and 38 items of counterfeit clothing.
Officers mounted the operation in response to recent increases in the sale of illegal vapes in both town centres.
Changes in legislation have meant that vapes are now restricted to a certain capacity and nicotine strength and authorities were aware that devices which did not meet legal standards were in circulation.
Authorities also frequently investigate the sale of counterfeit cigarettes in Kirklees, as well as other fake goods.
Sgt Amanda Holroyd, Kirklees Town Centre Partnership sergeant, said: “Officers from our team and West Yorkshire Trading Standards have taken illegal and counterfeit items worth tens of thousands of pounds from the streets of Kirklees in what have been some very significant seizures.
“We know cash from the sale of such goods can often be used to directly fund organised crime so it is important we do all we can to cut off sources of funding for serious criminality which can blight communities.
“Enquiries remain ongoing with our colleagues following these seizures and I would ask anyone who has information about organised criminal behaviour and the sale of illegal products to contact us.”
Linda Davis, manager at West Yorkshire Trading Standards, said: “The illegal trade in tobacco products makes it easier for children to start smoking, takes advantage of cash-strapped families, and helps fund organised crime.
“We would always remind members of the public of the adverse health, economic and social impacts of the illicit trade of tobacco products, including the linkages with human trafficking and a wide range of organised crimes.
“Our teams continue to work very closely with West Yorkshire Police to tackle this illegal behaviour and we want to thank residents for their support in reporting the sale of these goods.”
Anyone with information regarding the illicit tobacco and vape trade in Kirklees is asked to contact the Huddersfield Neighbourhood Policing Team via 101 or online at www.westyorkshire.police.uk/101livechat or contact West Yorkshire Trading Standards direct.
Information can also be given to the independent charity Crimestoppers, anonymously, on 0800 555 111.