THOUSANDS of pounds worth of counterfeit cigarettes, toys, jewellery and football memorabilia have been seized in a series of raids in Burnley and Pendle.

The raids were carried out by Lancashire County Council’s trading standards team.

The discovery of 13,000 cigarettes and 33 packs of rolling tobacco had an estimated street value of £4,000 alone.

County Hall bosses said the size of the haul recovered in just two days, illustrates the thriving underground market in illegal and dangerous goods in east Lancashire.

Paul Noone, head of Lancashire Trading Standards Service, said: "In only the first four months of 2012, we seized 40,000 illegal cigarettes and 57 kilos of illegal tobacco in the east of the county, in around thirty separate operations.

"Counterfeit goods are not manufactured with safety concerns in mind. The gangs responsible for supplying them are only interested in profit.

“This operation should send out a warning to traffickers of illegal goods that we will not hesitate to seize their stock and bring prosecutions."

In the raids, officers also discovered more than 100 banned cigarette lighters, several boxes of counterfeit toys including toy guns, counterfeit wallets, jewellery, SIM cards and various football souvenirs such as mugs with club crests.

The toys, which include fake Hello Kitty, Cars and Ben 10 vehicles and guns, are unlikely to have been manufactured or tested to European safety standards.

Albert Atkinson, deputy leader of Lancashire County Council, said: "Legitimate local businesses which already struggling in the recession are seeing their trade hit by sales of under-the-counter counterfeit products.

"The council will continue to crackdown on this kind of illegal activity."