A COCKER spaniel named Bradley has helped East Sussex County Council Trading Standards officers uncover thousands of illegal cigarettes Eastbourne.
The sharp-nosed sniffer dog was one of three who helped the team to root out the illegal goods in a recent two-day swoop on the towns.
Operation Wagtail, funded with money from the Department of Health, uncovered 6,000 illegal cigarettes and 70 packs of hand rolling tobacco.
Ten shops and one self storage unit were targeted for inspection by the dog team.
Investigations are ongoing with a view to formal actions by the council.
The county is the first authority in the south east to use sniffer dogs to snuffle out fake tobacco products.
The dogs are so highly trained that they are able to detect the goods even when they are being concealed in storage such as freezers.
Councillor Carl Maynard, lead member for Economy, Transport and Environment at the county council, said, “Although they may appear to be a bargain, illicit cigarettes and tobacco are more dangerous than over-the-counter brands.
“There are no safeguards regarding their contents which are generally far more toxic than tobacco supplied legally – which is toxic enough.
The use of sniffer dogs in this two-day operation was a great success and we will continue to use whatever resources necessary to drive out this unlawful trade in the county.”