Consumer watchdogs have vowed to continue a huge crackdown on West Yorkshire’s illegal cigarettes trade.

They made their pledge after the success of an operation targeting a business in Kirklees.

Arkan Rashid Ahmad, of Hunza Court, Dewsbury, was prosecuted at Leeds Crown Court for having a vast quantity of illegal cigarettes and tobacco.

He ran a business trading as Global Groceries, in Bradford Road, Dewsbury, and was jailed for 15 months, with an order that the tobacco products were forfeited and destroyed.

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It has emerged Global Groceries is well known to West Yorkshire Trading Standards Service with the Service first receiving complaints about the premises supplying illicit duty free tobacco in June 2010.

In May 2011 officers seized a quantity of illicit tobacco from the premises and returned in February 2012 to seize more.

A third raid took place on January 10 2014 and cigarettes and tobacco was found by a sniffer dog, hidden underneath a shelving unit and in a basement.

Seized - part of the huge haul of illicit cigarettes

Further checks later revealed that under crates of soft drinks, a hole had been cut out of the floor. In the hole, officers found a vast quantity of illicit tobacco products.

In all officers seized more than 159,000 illicit cigarettes and 650 packs of tobacco.

Unpaid duty amounted to more than £45,000.

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David Lodge, Head of West Yorkshire Trading Standards Service, said: “Far from being a victimless crime illegal tobacco trading creates a cheap source for children and young people and encourages adults to continue smoking by eroding cost motivation to quit.

“It is also linked to organised crime and contributes to an underground economy worth hundreds of millions of pounds.

“This significant prison sentence should serve as a warning to those who are involved in this illegal trade – our tobacco team, supported by Public Health across West Yorkshire, has seized more than one million cigarettes and will continue to identify those operating illegally.”

Illicit tobacco hidden at Global Groceries