Officers from Trading Standards, HMRC and the fire service raided a string of Luton shops last week and seized 36,520 illegal cigarettes and nearly 1.5 kg of hand-rolling tobacco.
Trading Standards used a sniffer dog and visited 19 stores on February 6 and 7, finding illicit products in five of those premises.
In one shop, several boxes of illegal prescription medicines were found and information has been passed to the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) as a result. Another shop was found selling alcohol without a license to do so.
Private sector housing officers found one house of multiple occupation (HMO) without working fire detection, and will be returning to two further properties to investigate the fire escape from the converted flats. In one case, officer found a fire escape that was blocked, which could potentially trap staff and customers in a shop if there was a fire.
Fire service officers provided advice to several business on fire safety, signage and fire exits, and several of these businesses will be revisited.
Cllr Aslam Khan, portfolio holder for public protection said, “This operation was very successful and is an excellent example of how joint working with partners can make a big difference to business, residents and consumers across the town. The council and its partners work hard to identity and eliminate illegal practices and will continue to do so, to ensure residents are protected.”
Further investigation following the raids will continue.