Spaniel finds criminals stash of illegal tobacco in secret tunnel
Over 248,520 illegal cigarettes and 84.35Kgs of tobacco have been seized in Kent thanks to specialist detection dogs from Wales based B.W.Y Canine Ltd. A team of five dogs supported the large multi-agency operation, code named Operation Puggle, during two days of action in Gravesened, Kent.
Tobacco detection dogs Bran, Yoyo, Cooper and Griff together with bank note detection dog Maggie made a huge impact on the sale and distribution of illegal tobacco and cigarettes. The dog are handled by Stuart Phillips who has an enviable reputation as a multi-award winning detection dog trainer in the UK.
The multi-agency operation in Gravesend was led by Kent Police and supported by Kent Trading Standards, His Majesty's Revenue & Customs, UK Immigration Service and Gravesham Council Officers.
During the search of a shop, tobacco detection dog Bran, a Working Cocker Spaniel, indicated the presence of tobacco behind shelving in the basement. Stuart Phillips who handles and trained Bran began to investigate the shelving and dismantle it with the help of Police Officers. After discovering nothing behind the shelving, the tiles on the wall were then removed and it quickly became apparent that super sniffer dog Bran had identified a secret door, operated by electro magnets. When the door was opened, officers could not believe what they were seeing, a secret tunnel to the basement of the adjoining premises. Inside the neighbouring basement was a stash of 148,000 cigarettes and 1315 pouches of tobacco, all illegal products.
Stuart, who has been a dog handler for 23 years and has supported UK illegal tobacco operations for over 10 years said: "It was a staggering find for Bran, there is no doubt that without Bran we would not have found this hidden tobacco."
In another shop on the other side of Gravesend, Cooper a Fox Red Labrador who is also trained to find tobacco and cigarette products identified a chute behind the shop counter. The chute was hidden behind a door which opened and closed using a sophisticated electro-magnet lock. Once the door was opened, officers found a single packet of cigarettes, but the discovery led Police and Customs to the flats above the shop. Yoyo, a veteran tobacco detection dog was used to search the stair case and doors to the flats above the shop and it wasn't long before Yoyo, a nine year old Working Cocker Spaniel identified a door that was locked. Using a Customs entry warrant, Police gained access to the locked room and found 58,900 illegal cigarettes and 135 pouches of illegal hand rolling tobacco, hidden within a false wall.
Stuart Phillips and the B.W.Y Canine dogs have been assisting Trading Standards, Police and Customs to disrupt organised crime and tackle the illegal tobacco trade in the UK for a decade now, gaining a reputation amongst law enforcement agencies for providing tobacco and cash detection dogs that get results.
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