Thousands of illegal cigarettes were hidden behind a magnetic panel powered by a phone charger at a shop in Kensington.
They were discovered with the help of specially trained search dogs, which were taking part in an operation led by Liverpool City Council’s Alcohol and Tobacco Unit targeting the Kensington and Norris Green areas.
Shops were targeted as a result of information received from members of the public. At the first premises in Kensington ,3120 illicit cigarettes and 7.7litres of smuggled vodka were seized.
At this shop the search dog indicated to a plastic partition behind a shelving unit within the retail area. On inspection officers found the partition to be solid and did not seem as though it had been tampered with.
A second search dog was brought into the shop and again indicated to the same area. Officers continued to search the area around the partition until they discovered a wooden panel which at first glance seemed to form part of the wall(pictured below)
Closer inspection revealed an electric cable leading from the partition to a telephone charging device plugged into a nearby socket. Once the device was switched off the wooden panel detached revealing stash of illicit cigarettes.
Officers using search dogs in Norris Green seized 3.7kg of counterfeit hand rolling tobacco.
Councillor Steve Munby, cabinet member for neigbourhoods, said: “Alcohol and Tobacco Unit officers have been stepping up these type of operations in key areas of the city where information received indicates a significant trade in illicit tobacco.
“We will continue these operations as illicit tobacco sales damage key Public Health initiatives and smoking cessation programmes across the city. Legal proceedings will follow as a result of these seizures. Our message to retailers is do not sell illegal tobacco products, not only are these harmful to health but you will end up in court.”