POLICE are targeting criminals selling fake tobacco and alcohol products across the borough.
Numbers of counterfeit goods soar between Crhistmas and new year, and now a warning is being issued about the health dangers of purchasing black market products.
Assistant regional director for criminal investigation, Paul Rooney, said: “Counterfeit products can be highly dangerous.
“They are unregulated and therefore have not gone through any of the testing processes which are required by law in genuine products.
“This means that counterfeit cigarettes, tobacco and alcohol could contain harmful chemicals which can cause illness and in excess could prove to be fatal.”
Throughout 2012 a tream from HM Revenue and Customs has been tackling the sale of illegal goods.
Now criminals are being warned if they are caught they could be sentenced to seven years behind bars.
“We find that in weeks leading up to Christmas and new year we see an increase in the levels of cheap or illegally imported wines, beers and spirits,” Mr Rooney added.
“We want to reiterate to the public about the potential dangers of buying goods in this way and also the impact this type of crime has on the local community.
“This is something that members of the public should take very seriously.
“The black market trade in cigarettes and alcohol is run mostly by criminal gangs who are making a hefty profit at the expense of the taxpayer but not only that, the products they sell are often not the genuine article.”