MORE than 5,000 illegal cigarettes and 70 packets of tobacco were seized in a raid on a city shop.

Police and trading standards officers carried out the operation at the shop, in Lowesmoor, Worcester.

The seized products were either counterfeit imitations or illicit items, which means they were brought into the country illegally.

Sergeant Paul Smith, of south Worcestershire licensing team, said: "This is an excellent demonstration of partnership working between West Mercia Police and the county council’s trading standards team.

"This will serve as a reminder to those engaged in the sale of illicit products that robust enforcement is taking place and will continue to do so.

"I hope that it will also demonstrate to the local community our commitment to protect them from this organised criminal activity.”

No-one was arrested as part of the operation on February 13, however the businesses and individuals involved are subject to an ongoing criminal investigation.

Worcestershire county councillor Lucy Hodgson, cabinet member for communities, said: “This is a fine example of our trading standards officers working with the police to stamp out illegal activity in the county.

"The availability of cheap illicit cigarettes and tobacco in our communities makes it harder for smokers to quit and stay smoke free.

"These products are significantly cheaper than the legitimate product, undermining the impact of the government’s taxation pressures aimed at persuading people to quit.

"It also reduces the takings of local honest businesses and cuts the income to the treasury which funds our public services.

"The availability of cheap products also makes it much easier for young people to get hold of tobacco, creating a risk to their long term health.

"Our trading standards team will continue to work hard to remove illegal products and where necessary we will prosecute businesses and individuals that ignore the law."

Police would not disclose the name of the business as it is part of an ongoing police investigation.

If you are concerned that a retailer is selling illicit or counterfeit tobacco, call consumer direct on 03454 040506.