Tobacco criminal syndicate dismantled in Melbourne

Australian Border Force, Australian Criminal Intelligence Commission

An Australian Border Force (ABF) operation, assisted by the Australian Criminal Intelligence Commission (ACIC), has resulted in the arrest of a 49-year-old man for allegedly possessing more than 4.8 million cigarettes illegally imported into Melbourne.

After an ABF Tobacco Strike Team investigation, prompted by intelligence received from the ACIC, ABF officers conducted warrant activity on 12 April 2017 at a warehouse in Dandenong where they found packages of cigarettes among boxes filled with glass bottles.

The man has been arrested and charged with possession of tobacco products, knowing that the goods were imported with the intention of defrauding revenue, in contravention of section 233BABAD(2) of the Customs Act 1901.

The man appeared before the Melbourne Magistrates Court on 13 April 2017 and was remanded in custody/bailed. He is due to reappear at Melbourne Magistrates Court on 18 July 2017.

The cigarettes had a potential street value of $2.5 million with the total amount of duty evaded at about $2.9 million.

Acting ABF Commander Matt Stock said this was another sophisticated attempt to defraud Australian taxpayers of legitimate revenue through illegal importation and risks the health of the Australian community.

“These arrests show that illicit tobacco is an attractive market for organised criminal syndicates due to the lucrative profits that can be made in evaded tax,” Acting Commander Stock said.

“The dangerous health risks associated with cigarettes are well known; however, illicit cigarettes pose an even greater risk as the source of the tobacco and the conditions in which it is manufactured are unknown.”

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

People with information about the illicit importation of tobacco should call Border Watch on 1800 009 623. By reporting suspicious activities, you help protect Australia's border. Information can be provided anonymously

Media contacts

Immigration and Border Protection (02) 6264 2244

Australian Criminal Intelligence Commission (02) 6268 7343