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Sick crooks push cheap cigarettes on facebook laced with potentially life-threatening chemicals – daily record

CRIMINAL gangs are turning to the internet to sell cheap fake tobacco that is often laced with extremely hazardous material.

The anonymity of the internet and its reach means authorities are now faced with tackling a new front in the war on cheap counterfeit cigarettes and rolling tobacco.

Earlier this month, the Record revealed how fake cigarettes laced with radioactive material were intercepted in Poland.

The counterfeit fags were found to contain strontium 90, a radioactive isotope produced when atomic weapons explode.

Britain is a prime target for tobacco smugglers partly because of our tax on cigarettes, which is among the highest in Europe.

Customs officers at Warsaw airport found the cigarettes hidden in a container of frozen crabs.

The container had been packed in Vietnam, where millions of counterfeit cigarettes bound for the British black market are produced.

Much of the fake tobacco smuggled into Scotland is made in Vietnam and routed through eastern Europe.

And crooks are now turning to the anonymity of the internet and setting up fake profiles on social media sites such as Facebook to advertise their dodgy cigs.

But experts warn that the fact it is being offered by untraceable sources means it is potentially far more harmful than regulated tobacco.

The crooks involved, who are at the bottom of the criminal food chain, travel across the UK to target particular areas.

Villains set up fake Facebook profiles from untraceable mobiles and pass the phones and contraband on to mules to sell.

Getty/PA Strontium 90 has been found in packs seized by customs

The crooks then join local for sale groups and post ads.

Others are then given the mobile and a bag of fake tobacco. Once people contact them they will arrange to complete the deal in a neutral place such as a pub or car park, or even post the fakes out.

The sellers are the last part of a chain that sees criminal gangs grow the tobacco in the Far East, often on contaminated land.

The goods are then shipped across Asia and Europe before gangs organise its reception and distribution in Scotland.

Most criminals at each stage of the operation are not known to each other.

One Facebook message seen by the Record indicated that people have been stung in the past by buying poor quality counterfeit tobacco.

It says Amber Leaf for Sale. Great deals cheap. Amber Leaf tobacco, very fresh. Isn t sh t like the cheap stuff that smells of chocolate.

This is good tobacco. I can guarantee you ll want more of it.

It s flying out quicker than ever. The more you buy the cheaper the prices get. Message me people while I m in your area.

In another Facebook ad the poster tries to distance herself from the illegal trade by saying Posting for a friend, admin delete if not allowed.

Amber Leaf and Golden Virginia 50g tobacco cheap prices private message me or (name of freind) if interested as I don t get notifications.

Another Facebook post tries to warn potential customers about the financial implications of buying counterfeit online.

It says Beware. I was silly enough to buy some tobacco for my husband off someone on one of these selling sites.

Fake cigarettes are flooding Facebook in ads

I got the pack, it was not sealed and it certainly wasn t Amber Leaf that I got told it was and what the pack says.

The packs are now in the bin cos my husband says it s not smokeable.

Not going to name names, but please be careful cos buying cheap means buying twice.

Advertising counterfeit tobacco online often draws the attention of the

Customs officers, specialist police and the procurator fiscal service now share the Scottish Crime Campus at Gartcosh, Lanarkshire.

A source said All the agencies talk to each other so while the ways criminals try to get the counterfeit products to market is always evolving, so are we.

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Regardless of where a crime originates, if it is happening in Scotland then it is an offence here, and people using the internet to peddle this highly dangerous product should be aware of that.

Earlier this year, Police Scotland Chief Constable Sir Stephen House said
Organised crime groups deal in a wide range of commodities.

From e crime and fraud to illegal tobacco and human trafficking.

They have extensive operations to launder dirty money. They use specialists and professional facilitators to advise them.

They use and exploit new technology for their ends. And they have a web of relationships with other crime groups in the rest of the UK and overseas.

It now takes a network to defeat these networks.

We have made great strides in developing an effective multi agency approach under the national strategy of Scotland s Serious Organised Crime Taskforce.

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Brave Staffie Corbin leapt in when dad to be Philip Skirving slipped into the icy cold water.

The dog hauled him out by his jumper. Philip, 27, said If he wasn t there to help me, I would have drowned.

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The upmarket London store are selling Dalreoch at 35 for a 15g tin enough for about three cups.

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BRITAIN is a prime target for tobacco smugglers, who take advantage of smokers&#x27 dismay at the rising tax on the habit.

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BRITAIN is a prime target for tobacco smugglers, who take advantage of smokers&#x27 dismay at the rising tax on the habit.

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