News Police

Bust illegal tobacco ring

Evidence seized during warrant activity

A SHOP and a storage facility in Auburn have been raided by Australian Border Force (ABF) investigators who have smashed a highly organised criminal syndicate which netted 2.9 tonnes of loose leaf tobacco, more than 300,000 cigarettes and $97,000 in cash.

Evade $3.3m import tax

On February 28, ABF officers at the Sydney Container Examination Facility allegedly detected 1560kg of loose leaf tobacco in a container from China. The goods were described as “polyester fabric”.

It’s alleged that on March 20, another consignment arrived from China, also described as “polyester fabric”, and was found to contain a further 1320kg of loose leaf tobacco.

The total duty evaded on these two consignments is estimated to be $3.3 million.

Last week three men were arrested – a 56-year-old Australian, a 30-year-old Chinese national and a 37-year-old Australian – and charged with offences relating to Section 233BABAD(2) of the Customs Act 1901.

ABF Regional Investigations NSW Acting Superintendent John Fleming said investigators had once again been able to disrupt an established and highly organised criminal syndicate.

“This has been the culmination of a 10-month long investigation which has resulted in the arrests of eight people and the detection of five million cigarettes and five tonnes of loose leaf tobacco,” Superintendent Fleming said.

“Our officers have been very successful in gathering intelligence in the field to not only disrupt the junior players but the high-level facilitators of this operation, which will ensure these imports never make it to Australia in the first place.

 “We will continue do everything we can to stop these syndicates, which are defrauding the Commonwealth of legitimate revenue, and often funnel their profits back into organised crime.”

The maximum penalty for tobacco smuggling is 10 years’ imprisonment and/or a fine of up to five times the amount of duty evaded.