THOUSANDS of illegal cigarettes were seized and 19 roadside stop checks made during a week long campaign to tackle rogue traders.
Three properties in St Helens were searched and the huge stash of blackmarket cigarettes were discovered in one after being “sniffed out” by specially trained dogs.
The Star has reported previously concerns that children become addicted to smoking because they get cheap access to cigarettes sold illegally, with figures suggesting 80per cent of smokers are addicted before they turn 18.
St Helens Council’s Trading Standards joined forces with Merseyside Police on the rogue trader operation.
Rogue traders are individuals or groups who cold-call householders, often targeting vulnerable residents, claiming to be a legitimate business.
They charge excessive fees for building or gardening, yet the work is either sub-standard or not carried out at all.
The week of action resulted in 19 groups being spoken to and advised of how to operate within the law.
Darrell Wilson, chief trading standards officer, said: “Offenders can be both plausible and intimidating in order to convince their victims to part with cash for overpriced and shoddy work.
“Trading Standards advice is to always say ‘no’ to any traders offering to carry out work who unexpectedly turn up on your doorstep.”