SOME shops in Oxford have been found to be selling illegal cigarettes in an undercover operation.

Ten vendors offered to sell fake fags when asked if they had any cheap ones.

Former Metrpolitan Police Service murder detective Will O’Reilly, who was hired by a cigarette manufacturer to lead the inquiry, said most of the shops were in the East Oxford area.

He said the illicit cigarettes were pushed by organised crime gangs and have sometimes been found to contain ingredients like flies and rat droppings.

He said: “Illicit tobacco products are readily available up and down the UK. The trade has become a primary source of revenue for criminal gangs.”

The former police officerhas been conducting research on behalf of tobacco firm Philip Morris International since 2011.

The team came to Oxford in May last year after work in 12 other cities.

Mr O’Reilly said all findings have been passed on Oxfordshire County Council’s trading standards team.

The scale of the problem is also said to be rapidly increasing.