Over 80,000 illegal e-cigarettes and e-liquid products worth £800,000 have been seized from a warehouse in Salford.
Salford City Council’s trading standards team took the items from a wholesale distribution business in Broughton last week as part of a multi-agency raid.
Immigration Enforcement officers, part of the Home Office, executed an immigration warrant and arrested five people suspected of working illegally at the premises, along with seizing more than £4,000 of suspected ‘profits’ from illegal employment. Firms proven to be facilitating illegal working can be fined up to £20,000 per worker.
Officers from Greater Manchester Police as part of Operation Vulcan, the North West Police Intellectual Property Crime Unit, and Greater Manchester Fire and Rescue Service also took part in the enforcement visit and Greater Manchester Fire and Rescue Service has now condemned the warehouse as unsafe. The owners have been served safety improvement notices.
The products breach safety regulations and 65,000 of the items are suspected to be counterfeit. A criminal investigation has been launched. The team also seized over £25,000 which is now subject to a proceeds of crime investigation.
Councillor Barbara Bentham, lead member for environment and community safety, said the team had previously seized items from the premises and given advice on complying with the law.
“We won’t hesitate to take action as many times as necessary against businesses which break the law and put people’s health at risk with illegal products,” she said.
“If anyone has information about illegal or counterfeit goods being sold they can report it anonymously to Crimestoppers and help stamp this out. Apart from putting people’s health in danger, it’s not fair to legitimate businesses which are working hard to stay on the right side of the law.”