A dedicated detection dog named Boo has helped find a haul of hidden illegal cigarettes worth £18,000 in Aberdeenshire.
The German Wirehaired Pointer Lab came into her own during the search of a commercial address in Fraserburgh.
The illegal contraband was hidden inside the empty casing of a printer placed on a shelf in the shop storeroom, but Boo sniffed out the illicit cigarettes and vaping products.
A larger haul of illegal cigarettes was found at the property after Trading Standards obtained a court warrant to search the premises.
The search was carried out as part of Operation CeCe, which is part-funded by HMRC, with the aim of tackling the supply of illegal tobacco and cigarettes.
Aberdeenshire Council’s trading standards officers are employing specialist tobacco sniffer dogs to ensure that shops are complying with tobacco laws.
David MacKenzie, chair of the Society of Chief Officers of Trading Standards in Scotland, said: “This is an outstanding result for Aberdeenshire Trading Standards. Removing illegal tobacco from the marketplace protects consumers and legitimate businesses.
“In addition, the intelligence gathered as a result will add to the national picture informing the work of other Trading Standards Services and HMRC.”
Investigations are now under way with a view to reporting those involved to the Procurator Fiscal.
Gordon Buchanan, Aberdeenshire Council’s protective services manager said: “It is one of the largest seizures of illicit tobacco and tobacco products that we have had in Aberdeenshire to date, and the staff and boo must be praised for the careful planning and execution of the operation.
“Illegal tobacco is not a victimless crime, it is serious and organised crime which significantly harms our communities. This latest enforcement action demonstrates to local communities that the council will not allow these criminals to risk the safety of the residents of Aberdeenshire and the undermining of local businesses.”