AROUND 200 illegal cigarettes have been seized following a raid on a house.
The joint operation involved officers from Hartlepool Borough Council’s trading standards unit, Cleveland Police, HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) and Scambusters.
The operation, codenamed Operation Antelope, resulted in a 48-year-old man being arrested and bailed pending further investigations.
The arrest followed surveillance on a property in the West View area where it is alleged that the illegal cigarettes were being sold to members of the local community, including schoolchildren.
The operation is part of a clampdown on the sale of illicit tobacco from residential properties known as “tab houses”.
Part of the haul seized at the residential property were packets of cigarettes with non-compliant health warnings.
Rachael Byron, the council’s trading standards tobacco control officer, said: “This raid clearly sends a clear message to those operating illegal ‘tab houses’ that it will not be tolerated.
“Tab houses often sell their illegal cigarettes to children, exposing them to all the well-documented health risks associated with smoking.
“Criminals are helping recruit a new generation of smokers through mass illegal cigarettes and hand-rolled tobacco with either no health warnings at all, or written in Russian, Chinese or Arabic.”
Anyone with information about the selling of illegal tobacco in Hartlepool can ring (01429) 523362 or pass information on anonymously to Crimestoppers on 0800 555111.