CIGARETTES washed ashore on Chesil Beach earlier this year have been seized after they were found being sold in shops.

Dorset County Council confirmed some of the cigarettes recovered in raids with the help of sniffer dogs as part of an operation against illegal tobacco came from the containers which washed up on the Dorset coast back in February.

The containers were lost from the cargo ship Svenborg Maersk, which ran into storms in the Bay of Biscay.

Thousands of packets of legitimate cigarettes which were being shipped to Sri Lanka washed up on the coast. Some of those were picked up by scavengers and made their way to shops.

The council said 2,640 cigarettes linked to the containers plus 16 pouches of tobacco not from the ship were seized as part of its continuing campaign to deal with illegal and illicit tobacco, named Operation Henry.

The council’s trading standards team and Dorset Police carried out inspections at four shops across the county using sniffer dogs supplied by Wagtails UK.

At one shop Milo, a Springer Spaniel, located the pouches of illegal hand rolling tobacco. At another the owner volunteered the cigarettes before the dogs were needed. All of the tobacco was labelled in another language and clearly not for the UK market.

Richard Herringshaw, principal trading standards officer, said: “Using sniffer dogs is a first for us and we are pleased with the results. The premises were visited based on intelligence received from the public and from Dorset Police.”

Dorset County Council’s Cabinet member for community services, Cllr Colin Jamieson, pictured left, added: “I urge anyone who is aware of illegal tobacco being supplied to report it to us. They can do it anonymously by calling Crime Stoppers on 0800 555 111.”

Trader advice is available from Dorset County Council on 01305 224702 or email Information on the illegal tobacco campaign can be seen at