More than 17,000 “illicit cigarettes” were seized in raids of Barking and Dagenham shops.

The council’s trading standards team removed cigarettes with a combined estimated street value of £8,000 during the second part of an operation targeting illegal tobacco supply.

Trading standards officers raided six shops in the borough last Friday, October 22, after receiving intelligence that showed illegal tobacco was being sold.

The council said products were seized from four of the businesses, including 12,000 cigarettes from one and another 2,840, 1,200 and 1,000 from the others.

The operation followed raids two weeks earlier when more than 12,000 cigarettes and tobacco were removed from three shops.

Councillor Margaret Mullane, cabinet member for enforcement and community safety, said: “The sale of illegal cigarettes is often linked to other crimes, so these operations play a massive role in putting a stop them."

The council said all of the businesses are being investigated further.