LANCASHIRE County Council Trading Standards Service has seized an Aladdin’s Cave of fake goods following two days of raids in Pendle and Burnley.
The huge haul made over May 2nd and 3rd includes counterfeit tobacco, cigarette lighters, toys, jewellery, football memorabilia and mobile phone SIM cards.
The quantity of tobacco alone, consisting of 13,000 cigarettes and 33 packs of rolling tobacco with an estimated street value of £4,000, illustrates the underground market in illegal and dangerous goods which is thriving in east Lancashire.
Head of Lancashire County Council Trading Standards Service, Paul Noone, said: “In only the first four months of 2012, Lancashire’s trading standards teams have seized 40,000 illegal cigarettes and 57 kilos of illegal tobacco in the east of the county, in around 30 separate operations.
“Counterfeit goods are not manufactured with safety concerns in mind. The gangs responsible for supplying them are only interested in profit. Supplying counterfeit goods of all kinds is a criminal offence and is forcing many legitimate traders to the wall. This should send out a warning to traffickers of illegal goods that we will not hesitate to seize their stock and bring prosecutions.”
Besides the tobacco, other goods found include over 100 banned cigarette lighters, several boxes of counterfeit toys including toy guns, counterfeit wallets, jewellery, SIM cards and various football souvenirs such as mugs with club crests.
A consignment of counterfeit battery-operated Ben 10 cars seized from an internet trader in Nelson in December, 2011 have failed safety standards on short-circuiting, which makes them a possible fire hazard, and a prosecution is pending. The new seizure will now be tested to check for safety compliance.
Albert Atkinson, deputy leader of Lancashire County Council, added: “Legitimate local businesses which already struggling in the recession are seeing their trade hit by sales of under-the-counter counterfeit products.
“The council will continue to crackdown on this kind of illegal activity. We are committed to improving the prosperity of Lancashire’s genuine businesses.”