City of Wolverhampton Council and West Midlands Police say last week's huge £150,000 seizure of suspected counterfeit tobacco and alcohol was just the start of a tough new crackdown on the illegal trade.

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The launch of Operation Riposte last Friday (17 July, 2015) saw council and police officers swoop on shops in the Whitmore Reans area of the city.

They seized Wolverhampton's biggest ever haul of potentially lethal fake cigarettes and alcohol which had been hidden inside the premises.

Fake cigarettes have previously been found to have higher than normal levels of harmful chemicals in them, whereas counterfeit alcohol can contain toxic ingredients such as cleaning fluids or antifreeze.

During last Friday's raids a specially trained sniffer dog was used to search for the tobacco which was found hidden in secret compartments, beneath floorboards and even behind a fake wall in a room above one of the shops.

Euro Shop and Sam Euro Style, both on Newhampton Road West, were the 2 off licences where the items were found.

Both shops now face a formal review of their licences which could be revoked by the council's licensing committee.

Councillor Steve Evans, cabinet member for city environment, said: "The launch of Operation Riposte was a big success for our trading standards and licensing teams working in partnership with the police. I would like to thank everyone involved for their diligence and hard work.

"They seized an unprecedented quantity of suspected illegal tobacco and alcohol which had been placed in some elaborate hiding places in a failed attempt to avoid detection.

"The 2 shops where these items were found now face a formal review of their licences which could lead to them being banned from selling alcohol.

"This is just the start for Operation Riposte. It will be an ongoing operation acting on community intelligence to target this illegal trade. We proved last week that it doesn't matter to what lengths people go to try and hide these items - we will find it.

"The clear message to anyone else out there selling illegal tobacco and alcohol is that you will be caught, the items will be confiscated and you could very well lose your licence to trade."

Sergeant Jake Flanagan, from West Midlands Police, said: "Licensed retailers are in a position of trust to sell legitimate products to the public. We will take action when this trust is breached and the public are endangered by the sale of counterfeit products.

"Operations like this tackle some of the root causes of crime and anti social behaviour in our communities."

The council has appealed for anyone with any information about shops in the city which are selling counterfeit or non duty paid tobacco or alcohol to contact them on 01902 551155 or to email

  • released: Tuesday 21 July, 2015