Tobacco Smuggling Gangs Targeting Wales, Says Senior Investigator

Wales is being targeted by criminals selling illegal tobacco because of its lack of investment in enforcement, a senior investigator has told the BBC.

Clive Jones, from Powys Council Trading Standards, added that tobacco control strategies will be undermined unless central enforcement is introduced.

New figures reveal that more than 150,000 illegals tobacco products have been seized in Wales since 2013.

Jones told BBC Wales: The real threat to Wales is that we dont become a dumping ground for criminals to make money from the fact that the enforcement ethos and capability is not there.

I think criminals see it as an open door to make money in Wales from this type of criminality. And that is a challenge to Welsh Government C to say, as part of their strategy, where is the emphasis on enforcement?

Its great having tobacco control strategies but the enforcement arm of that needs to be in place, and if its not it completely undermines the wider strategy.

The Welsh government is considering proposed strategies.

In response to the BBC report, Imperial Tobacco UKs anti-Illicit trade manager, James Hall, said: These latest concerning comments reflect the continuing struggle to bring the rampant illegal tobacco trade under control in Wales.

We appreciate many local trading standards authorities C including Powys C are under a great deal of pressure in terms of resource. Imperials dedicated anti-illicit trade team will continue to lend our support, when requested, to all forms of law enforcement in the fight against illegal tobacco.   Enditem