Illegal tobacco products with a street value in excess of £15,000 have been seized by Trading Standards officers.
It was a chance discovery for Trading Standards officers, who were carrying out inspections across the borough using a specially trained sniffer dog from Wagtail UK.
During one visit, a man was seen entering a shop before hurriedly leaving.
He was followed by officers and seen entering a nearby newsagents where the illegal haul was found in the basement hidden in suitcases, laundry bags and boxes.
The discovery included tobacco products that had no duty-paid mark on them, meaning they had evaded paying tax, as well as counterfeits.
In total, 28,860 cigarettes were recovered from just three shops.
Councillor Syed Ghani, Cabinet Member for Enforcement and Community Safety said:
“This is one of the largest hauls of illegal tobacco products we’ve ever had in Barking and Dagenham.
“Alongside the recent court rulings we’ve secured, I hope it sends a clear message that we will continue to crackdown on companies who think they are above the law and that the rules don’t apply to them.”
The find comes after another business owner in Dagenham was ordered to pay more than £2,200 earlier this month for selling illegal cigarettes.
The supply of tobacco products is regulated by the Tobacco and Related Products Regulations 2016, and the Standardised Packaging of Tobacco Products Regulations 2015.
Any residents who believe a business is selling illegal cigarettes should let the council know by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
Alternatively, you can use our confidential reporting line which is found on this website here.