TM Eye detectives, working on behalf of Japanese Tobacco International (JTI), have today served criminal summons on three Chinese nationals living in Sheffield for Conspiracy to Distribute and Supply counterfeit tobacco products and packaging contrary to Section 1 of The Criminal Law Act 1977.
The prosecution follows a substantial UK wide surveillance operation by TM Eye’s Illicit Tobacco Team and the TM Eye Surveillance Team in September and October 2019.
Four premises in Sheffield were searched on 1st October 2019, by Humberside and Yorkshire Regional Organised Crime Unit and officers from Operation Fortify (South Yorkshire Organised Crime Unit). A working tobacco factory was found that was turning raw leaf tobacco into cut tobacco for illicit Fulfillment Houses across the UK. Within the Fulfillment Houses other gang members filled counterfeit tobacco pouches with the cut tobacco. These were then sold in wholesale quantities. The revenue loss is significant.
A linked Fulfillment House in St Loys Road, Tottenham in North London was raided by the Metropolitan Police and TM Eye detectives at the same time as the Sheffield raids. A large number of fake cigarettes, counterfeit filled and empty tobacco pouches, raw tobacco and ancillary products for manufacturing and distributing counterfeit tobacco products were recovered. The loss to H.M Revenue and Customs of seized goods from this single Fulfillment House was GBP 18.8 million.
The three defendants will appear at Sheffield Magistrates Court one 17th December 2019.
TM Eye’s investigation into the criminal network continues.