Hundreds of litres of alcohol and 54,000 cigarettes were seized last week from Walthamstow shops which failed to pay duty and VAT on the items.

A total of 50 independent stores and off licences were raided by HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) on Wednesday during an operation carried out with the Met and Waltham Forest Trading Standards.

Officers seized 446 litres of wine, 264 litres of spirits, 54,020 cigarettes and 9kg of hand rolling tobacco.

“This illegal trade has a devastating impact on legitimate retailers, who have to compete with black market traders,” HMRC spokeswoman Jennie Kendall said.

“It’s robbing the UK economy of vital funding and those selling these goods do not promote they are buying them from criminals – the profits of which are funding organised crime to the detriment of all our communities.”

Around £20,000 of revenue was lost as a result of the non-payment of taxes, according to HMRC.

Five premises will now have their licences to sell alcohol reviewed.

The police say the businesses invloved cannot be identified for legal reasons.

No arrests were made and investigations are ongoing.

Anyone with information on illegally imported goods, tax evasion or fraud can contact the customs hotline on 0800 59 5000.