More than £130,000 worth of cigarettes, alcohol and mobile phones was seized in raids by the council.

Redbridge Council and representatives from Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs department (HMRC) searched 20 properties yesterday in a crackdown on illicit goods.

Officers confiscated more than 10,000 cigarettes, 61 bottles of fake spirits, eight kilograms of illegal tobacco and 30 litres of wine, worth £10,000.

A total of 160 counterfeit mobile phones valued at £120,000 between them were also taken as well as a stash of illegal medicines and £23,000 in cash.

Criminal networks are estimated to be making more than £100 million a year from the illegal tobacco trade in London alone. They are known to target young children to bring crime into local communities.

Cllr Bob Littlewood, cabinet member for crime and safety said: “We’re determined to protect our residents and action days like this stop dangerous and illegal products reaching customers. Sales of fake cigarettes, alcohol and other goods don’t just harm legitimate businesses but are often associated with criminal gangs who are stealing unpaid tax from the public purse.

“Our Trading Standards officers are working very hard and our tough action sends a clear message that we will crack down on the businesses and individuals that flout the law.”

In July 2018, the council ran an illegal tobacco roadshow to raise awareness of illegal tobacco, highlight the dangers of the trade and encourage members of the public to report premises and individuals that sell it.

If you are aware of illegal products available in the borough, call Redbridge Trading Standards on 020 8708 5494.