Illegal cigarettes worth £10,000 found hidden in 'James Bond' compartments in Hull
Illegal cigarettes and hand rolling tobacco worth tens of thousands of pounds are being hidden in "James Bond style" compartments across Hull, it has emerged.
Up to 20,000 packets of illegal tobacco were uncovered by specialist search dogs in the two-day operation which targeted shops in the Spring Bank and Hessle Road area on Wednesday and Thursday.
The cigarettes were "stashed" in tiles behind bathroom mirrors and under raised floors in what have been described as scenes from Hollywood blockbuster "James Bond" .
A video of sniffer dog Scamp shows him in action uncovering a hidden stash of counterfeit cigarettes and hand rolling tobacco in a false ceiling above a bathroom.
The operation was led by Hull City Council's Trading Standards along with Humberside Police and specialist search dogs from Pembrokeshire-based company B.W.Y Canine Ltd.
Dog handler Stuart Phillips said: "Illegal tobacco is a very serious problem here in Hull.
"I work all over the country in cities such as Nottingham,Birmingham and London, so I can give a comparison, but Hull is one of the worst places in the country, it has a very big problem."People think the cigarettes are just hidden underneath the counter, but this isn't the case at all. These people are running very sophisticated organisations and the tobacco is hidden in James Bond style compartments.
"We have seen examples in Hull where they have used electronic operated tools to lift up floors to stash the items. We have also found a large number of cigarettes behind some tiles in a bathroom mirror. The dog led us to this spot and when we took the mirror off the wall we found between 3,000 and 4,000 cigarettes."
Mr Phillips believes there are up to 30 shops across Hull selling illegal tobacco.
He said: "It's a huge problem in the city.
"Often the sale of illegal cigarettes can be connected to organised crime and also have other repercussions on people's health. We don't know where these cigarettes have come from or what is in them.
"These shops make an awful lot of money from the sale of the illegal products, we are talking between £500 and £1000 a day."
Hull City Council confirmed an investigation is taking place into the sale of illegal tobacco.
A council spokeswoman said: "We have been working with Humberside Police this week and at this stage of the investigation it would be inappropriate for us to comment."