City of Wolverhampton Council has hailed the success of yesterday's Operation Riposte raids to tackle suspected immigration offenders and the sale of illegal cigarettes and alcohol.

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Council, Police and Home Office Immigration Enforcement officers swooped on 8 shops on Dudley Road in the Blakenhall area of the city.

At one business (Mini Mart Retail, 443 Dudley Road) Immigration Enforcement officers encountered a 29 year old Indian man who had overstayed his student visa - he was escorted from the premises as he had no permission to work.

Mini Mart was served a notice warning that they are liable for a financial penalty of up to £20,000 for employing the illegal worker unless evidence is provided that correct pre employment checks were carried out, such as seeing a passport or an official Home Office document.

At a second premise, officers arrested a 46 year old Indian man for overstaying his visit visa.

Both of these individuals have been ordered to report regularly to the Home Office while their cases are progressed.

Carol Scarr, Assistant Director Immigration Enforcement, said: "Businesses in the West Midlands should be aware that they need to carry out simple checks on their employees or face a financial penalty. Immigration Enforcement teams regularly support partner agencies and also lead our own operations to make sure these rules are enforced.

"We rely on information from members of the public and I would urge anyone with information about suspected immigration abuse to get in touch."

Council and police officers also used sniffer dogs to search premises - seizing £5,000 of illegal cigarettes, chewing tobacco and blunts.

A large quantity of oral tobacco, which is completely banned in the UK, was also seized at one shop and Trading Standards is now liaising with the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India on this.

Investigations into potential offences will now commence and this could lead to premises where significant issues were uncovered losing their licenses.

The first raids under the Operation Riposte banner took place in July and saw the £150,000 seizure of counterfeit tobacco and alcohol in the Whitmore Reans area of the city - Wolverhampton's biggest ever haul. It resulted in 2 off licenses losing their licences.

Councillor Steve Evans, Cabinet Member for City Environment, said: "Operation Riposte is proving very effective for our Trading Standards and licensing teams working in partnership with the police and immigration officers.

"Yesterday's operation was the biggest yet and again showed that anyone selling illegal tobacco and alcohol will be caught and the items confiscated, with the possibility of losing their license to trade.

"The operation is ongoing as we continue to act on community intelligence to target this illegal trade."

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

Information to help employers carry out checks to prevent illegal working can be found at Type=links;Linkid=6726;Title=Employers: illegal working penalties;Target=_blank;.

Anyone with information about suspected immigration abuse can report it at Type=links;Linkid=6725;Title=Report an immigration crime;Target=_blank; or call Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.

  • released: Friday 4 December, 2015