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Cllr Brett with the trading standards team and a bag of seized goods

Operation Cece: tackling illicit trade

On July 18, an impressive multi-agency operation named Operation Cece took place in Ealing, led by the council’s trading standards team, to crack down on illegal activities and illicit trade in the area.

The team was accompanied by Councillor Louise Brett, Ealing Council’s cabinet member for decent living incomes, sniffer dogs Piper and Wilson, licensing colleagues, and the Metropolitan Police.

There were 13 premises targeted, leading to the seizure of a substantial amount of contraband goods.

The combined forces of the operation led to a remarkable haul of illicit items. The most concerning were the staggering numbers of prescription-only medications discovered. The team seized 2,920 tablets and 37 oral jelly packs, highlighting the alarming presence of unregulated pharmaceuticals.

The team confiscated illicit tobacco products in the form of loose tobacco and cigarettes. A total of 534 pouches and 266 packs of chewing tobacco were seized along with 700 grams (14 packets) of illegal rolling tobacco. A whopping 19,100 illicit cigarettes (equivalent to 955 packets) were confiscated during the raid.

The sale of illicit and unregulated tobacco contributes to lost tax revenue and exposes consumers to potentially hazardous substances, as they may not undergo the necessary safety checks and quality controls.

Counterfeit vapes and packaging were also discovered during the operation. A total of 692 oversized vapes and nine non-compliant packaging units were confiscated. The rise of vaping has raised concerns about the quality and safety of these products, and this operation helps address those concerns.

In addition to the tobacco and vaping-related items, the raid uncovered other illicit goods. Eighteen nitrous oxide canisters were seized, often used recreationally, posing public health and safety risks. Furthermore, 135 packages of poppy seeds were discovered, which may have been intended for illicit uses.

Protecting Consumers

Councillor Brett said: “The success of Operation Cece can be attributed to the collaboration of the Trading Standards team, the Metropolitan Police, sniffer dogs Piper and Wilson, and licensing colleagues. Getting these products off the streets is crucial for residents and consumers and is one of the council’s top priorities. Reporting suspicious or unscrupulous behaviour to the authorities can play a vital role in combating illicit trade and ensuring a safer environment.

The operation serves as a strong deterrent to those involved in the illicit trade of goods, sending a clear message that their actions will not be tolerated. It also highlights the commitment of local authorities to safeguard public health and safety and protect consumers from harmful and unregulated products.”

Beyond the immediate impact of the raid, Operation Cece also reminds residents to remain vigilant against illegal activities in their communities.

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