Nearly 5000 cigarettes have been seized by customs officers after a series of raids in Banbury.
Nine different shops were visited on the same day last week, as part of a joint operation with police and the county council.
It also uncovered Class A and B drugs, thousands of kilos of suspected illegal tobacco, as well as counterfeit clothes and trainers.
Richard Mayer, Assistant Director, Fraud Investigation Service, HMRC, said:
“The sale of illegal tobacco and wider criminality will not be tolerated by us or our partner agencies. Disrupting criminal trade is at the heart of our strategy to clampdown on the illicit tobacco market, which costs the UK around £2.5 billion a year. This is theft from the taxpayer and undermines legitimate traders.
“We encourage anyone with information about the illegal sale of tobacco to report it to HMRC online or call the Fraud Hotline on 0800 788 887.”
Police Sergeant Sarah Nash of Thames Valley Police, said:
“This was a fantastic opportunity to work alongside partner agencies and disrupt criminality in Banbury Town Centre. The health risks associated with the trading of illegal cigarettes are significant and it is a positive result to have such quantities removed from the streets.
“We have also seized a significant amount of illegal drugs from a business premises and enquiries are ongoing in relation to this. We urge members of the community to report any illegal activity they are aware of via 101 or through the local Neighbourhood Teams.”
Speaking after the operation, Richard Webb, Head of Community Protection Services at Oxfordshire County Council, said:
“One of our priorities is to tackle illegal trading which undermines legitimate businesses in the county. The outcome of this operation shows just how widespread illicit tobacco is, and how businesses that sell illicit tobacco may also flout other areas of consumer law. As well as supporting organised crime, the supply of illicit tobacco undermines work to reduce the harm caused by smoking and therefore we will continue to work with our partners to tackle this problem.”