More than 30,000 illicit cigarettes and 10,000 litres of illicit alcohol have been seized following a raid on 25 stores in Derby and Nottinghamshire.
Sniffer dogs uncovered illicit goods for sale in 16 of the 25 stores.
In one store in Mansfield, Nottinghamshire, 10,000 litres of illicit beer, worth an estimated £9,200 in lost duty and VAT was found. In another store in Worksop £21,000 in cash was seized under the Proceeds of Crime Act.
Stuart Taylor, assistant director, fraud investigation service, HMRC, said: “The sale of illegal tobacco and alcohol will not be tolerated by us or our partner agencies. Disrupting criminal trade is at the heart of our strategy to clampdown on the illicit tobacco market. This is theft from the taxpayer and undermines legitimate traders.
“We will continue to target this illegal trade at all points from the supply chain to the distribution networks, which is why we would encourage anyone with information about the illegal sale of tobacco or alcohol to contact the Customs Hotline on 0800 59 5000.”
The news comes as a retailer in Manchester lost the support of JTI and Bestway, following a prosecution by Manchester Trading Standards for selling illegal cigarettes and tobacco.
Around £10,000 worth of illicit tobacco was found hidden in the store after sniffer dogs uncovered a secret chute behind the counter of Amani News in Levenshulme.
When an order was placed the store owner would radio a room upstairs where the illicit tobacco would be put into the chute before dropping out of a hatch under the counter.
The non fascia store was about to move into the Best-One symbol group. However, this support has now been removed, as has his JTI gantry.
Charlie Cunningham-Reid, JTI UK head of corporate affairs said: “Given the offence committed by this retailer, JTI has decided that the removal of our gantry was the most appropriate course of action. If this type of crime continues, customers will lose trust in their local shops.”
Bestway Group director of symbol, James Hall added: “Selling illegal tobacco must be seen as a crime that doesn’t pay, which is why, following this prosecution, Bestway has decided to remove all future support from this particular shop and we call on other suppliers to do the same.
“Those retailers who decide to sell illegal cigarettes through their shop give good retailers a bad name and we must all work together to protect the reputation of the local community store.”