Joint operation raids three Thanet shops over illicit tobacco sales

Seized goods

Kent Trading Standards and Kent Police officers have targeted three suspected illicit tobacco suppliers in Thanet today (February 9).

Part of the wider Operation CeCe – a National Trading Standards initiative in partnership with HMRC to tackle illegal tobacco sales – two shops in Cliftonville, Margate, and one in Ramsgate, were raided.

Officers seized 43 pouches of hand-rolling tobacco, 217 packs of cigarettes and £2000 cash suspected to be the proceeds of crime.  Some of the tobacco had been hidden in vehicles close by to the shops.

Kent Police Sergeant Tom Couzins, from Thanet Community Policing Team, said: “As part of the work against organised criminal groups, my officers work regularly with Trading Standards to identify businesses which might be used for illegal practices such as money laundering or human trafficking.

“The sale of illicit tobacco, using shops as fronts to pose as genuine businesses, can have a detrimental impact on legitimate local traders. It can also attract anti-social behaviour and fund further criminal activity.”

Clive Phillips, Operations Manager for Kent County Council Trading Standards, said: “For as long as this illegal trade continues, we will work with our enforcement partners using all available tactics to disrupt this activity.

“The sale of illicit tobacco undermines local legitimate businesses so we will do everything in our power to protect the safety and rights of the residents and businesses of Kent.

“Illegal tobacco brings organised crime into communities while making smoking more affordable for young people and those attempting to quit.”

Shops selling illegal tobacco can be reported anonymously through 0300 999 6 999 or by visiting


  1. The Cliftonville shop Al Madinah foods in Northdown Road is a regular to be raided for illicit cigarettes. It must have been done 4 times now including yesterday but the shop staff just continue as soon as the agents leave. They are laughing at the law. The shop should be permanently closed down and those prosecuted. It’s no good taking a few packets of fags from them as they have plenty more where they came from. They are being clever and not keeping the vast amount in the shop.
    Now wait the customers complaining that the police should have something better to do than to stop them getting cheap fags.

  2. There are several convenience stores on northdown road that really can’t be whatnthey pretend, minimal amounts of stock, usually 3 very indifferent staff members, not interested in customers. It’s hard not to think that they are anything other than fronts for some sortmof nefarious activity / money laundering.

  3. If only plod would continuously tackle the selling and public use of wacky baccy, i know it’s not a hmrc offence so gets no attention.

    • Police aren’t interested in street level dealing of heroin, crack, cocaine or amphetamines unless the idiot selling falls into their lap, no chance of controlling cannabis.

  4. Another waste of time. Raids led by the Tobacco industry who don’t like anybody cutting into their billions, made by killing their customers after years/decades of poor health. A trade that will come December 31st 2099 have likely killed a billion people this century-why are these people not on trial for mass genocide?

  5. So what is “illegal” exactly? It’s legal when a shop pays the tobacco licence (ie a bribe!!) The same with radio, dog, tv licences. Bring back the window tax.

    • Selling tobacco products that have not had the duty paid on them. But i don’t suppose you’re too upto date on things given the reference to a dog licence that were ended in 1988.

  6. Not just the avoidance of tax but also the cigarettes themselves filled with stuff like rat poison among other unknown substances. They are made in some backstreet hellhole by cheap labour workers and would not pass safety regulations to be sold legally in the European Union or the UK. Support people being poisoned by gangs selling cheap fags as much as you like but it is illegal and they should be banned from selling the stuff. The weak part is the authorities being run rings around by these traders.

  7. When I lived out in the sticks the only shop for miles around sold illicit tobacco. Everybody knew and nobody seemed to think that it was associated with endemic criminality. Different context I guess.

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