In a first for Aberdeenshire, a sniffer dog has been used to target businesses where intelligence indicated illegal tobacco products were being supplied.
In a two day operation, Aberdeenshire Council Trading Standards officers, supported by Police Scotland, targeted a number of local businesses believed to be involved in supplying illicit products.
Sniffer dog Dixie has been trained by Stirling Council to target the scent of tobacco and DVD products and to direct officers to hidden stashes in unusual places.
In this particular operation, the dog was able to detect tobacco hidden behind a false wall at one business premises.
Officers also made a visit to Thainstone Sunday Market and a large number of vehicles and stalls were inspected and guidance issued.
Officers were encouraged that no illicit products were detected during the visit, but further intelligence-led visits were made to a number of stores in north Aberdeenshire and 7,000 illegal cigarettes were seized.
Further investigations are being carried out to identify supply sources and follow up action will be taken where appropriate. A report is being prepared for the Procurator Fiscal.
Trading Standards Manager, Wilma Urquhart, said: “Specially-trained tobacco detection dogs are another valuable tool in helping this service tackle the illegal tobacco trade.
“The public should avoid buying tobacco from unregulated sources where there are no controls on the production and distribution of the products; there is also strong evidence to link this illicit trade to other illegal activity.”
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