Boroughwide Crackdown on Contraband Goods

Thirteen premises raided with two sniffer dogs assisting

Cllr Louise Brett with sniffer dogs Piper and Wilson in the foreground
Cllr Louise Brett with sniffer dogs Piper and Wilson in the foreground

July 26, 2023

A major multi-agency operation has been carried out in the borough of Ealing in a crackdown on contraband goods.

Operation Cece took place on 18 July and involved the council’s licensing team, police officers and two sniffer dogs Piper and Wilson.

The team was accompanied by Councillor Louise Brett, Ealing Council’s cabinet member for decent living incomes.

There were 13 premises targeted, leading to the seizure of a substantial amount of illicit goods including ‘staggering’ numbers of prescription-only medications. The team seized 2,920 tablets and 37 oral jelly packs, highlighting the presence of unregulated pharmaceuticals.

Illicit tobacco products in the form of loose tobacco and cigarettes were also confiscated. A total of 534 pouches and 266 packs of chewing tobacco were seized along with 700 grams (14 packets) of illegal rolling tobacco. 19,100 illicit cigarettes (equivalent to 955 packets) were foundduring the raid.

The sale of illicit and unregulated tobacco contributes to lost tax revenue and exposes consumers to potentially hazardous substances, as they may not undergo the necessary safety checks and quality controls.

Counterfeit vapes and packaging were also discovered with a total of 692 oversized vapes and nine non-compliant packaging units were confiscated. The rise of vaping has raised concerns about the quality and safety of these products, and this operation helps address those concerns.

In addition to the tobacco and vaping-related items, the raid uncovered other illicit goods. Eighteen nitrous oxide canisters were seized, often used recreationally, posing public health and safety risks. Furthermore, 135 packages of poppy seeds were discovered, which may have been intended for illicit uses.

Councillor Brett said, “The success of Operation Cece can be attributed to the collaboration of the Trading Standards team, the Metropolitan Police, sniffer dogs Piper and Wilson, and licensing colleagues. Getting these products off the streets is crucial for residents and consumers and is one of the council’s top priorities. Reporting suspicious or unscrupulous behaviour to the authorities can play a vital role in combating illicit trade and ensuring a safer environment.

“The operation serves as a strong deterrent to those involved in the illicit trade of goods, sending a clear message that their actions will not be tolerated. It also highlights the commitment of local authorities to safeguard public health and safety and protect consumers from harmful and unregulated products.”

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