A RAID on shops in Gloucestershire has resulted in the seizure of 3,000 cigarettes and hundreds of bottles of alcohol.

Gloucestershire trading standards along with partner agencies seized the illegal goods from four shops in Gloucester on Tuesday, March 25.

Six shops on Eastgate Street and Barton Street, Gloucester were visited by Gloucestershire Trading Standards, HM Revenue & Customs and Gloucestershire Police.

The operation, which also utilised sniffer dogs specially trained to locate tobacco hidden within shop premises, was launched following 'test purchase's' which confirmed that each shop was selling illegal tobacco.

In total, 3000 cigarettes (150 packs) and 2.6kg (52 pouches) were seized by Trading Standards and HMRC officers seized 202 bottles of wine and 150 bottles of spirits suspected of being sold illegally.

As a result of these seizures, investigations will follow.

Cllr Will Windsor-Clive, cabinet member for planning and infrastructure, said: "Illegal tobacco can mean cheap tobacco - and the cheaper it is the more likely local people are to continue smoking instead of cutting down or stopping.

"Combined with this illegal products don't go through the same rigorous testing or include Government health warnings, so people really have no idea what they putting into their bodies."

Head of Trading Standards Eddie Coventry said: "We remain determined to target this illegal trade, which can put people's health at risk and at the same time harms legitimate traders businesses."

HMRC spokesman Bob Gaiger said: "HMRC works closely with partner agencies to target anyone we suspect is selling illegal tobacco and alcohol.

“We relentlessly pursue individuals believed to be involved in this type of criminal activity.

“It is not a victimless crime and undermines the efforts of legitimate traders."