Australian Border Force (ABF) officers have charged a man after he allegedly attempted to smuggle more than 10 million cigarettes into Australia in sea cargo containers.
On 10 October 2018, ABF officers identified two containers at the Melbourne Container Examination Facility. Upon further examination, both were found to contain pallets of illicit cigarettes.
The total amount of cigarettes concealed in both containers is estimated to be 10,034,000, worth more than AUD $8.9 million in evaded duty.
On 17 October 2018, ABF officers executed a warrant at a business address in Campbellfield and seized a number of electronic devices.
On 22 October 2018, a 40-year-old man was arrested by ABF investigators and charged with one count of contravening section 233BABAD (2A) of the Customs Act 1901.
He appeared at Melbourne Magistrates Court and was granted conditional bail, to reappear on 21 January 2019.
ABF Victoria Regional Investigations Superintendent Nicholas Walker said the operation would make a significant dent in the supply of illicit tobacco in Victoria.
“This is a significant detection – we’ve been able to prevent the Commonwealth being defrauded of more than $8.9 million in legitimate revenue,” Superintendent Walker said.
“Illicit tobacco is an international issue, with much of the profits from cigarettes sold illegally in Australia being used to fund other criminal activity both here and overseas.”
“The ABF is committed to working with our international partners to detect, investigate and disrupt those involved in the illegal tobacco trade – and to stop the profits from these smuggling operations from funding further criminal activity.”
The maximum penalty for tobacco smuggling is 10 years’ imprisonment and/or a fine of up to five times the amount of duty evaded.
The illicit tobacco market in Australia is worth about $600 million a year in evaded revenue. Targeting and dismantling this criminal activity is an operational priority for the ABF.
You can help
In addition to operations like this, the ABF is also leading the new Illicit Tobacco Taskforce that combines the resources of the ABF, Department of Home Affairs, ACIC, the Australian Taxation Office, AUSTRAC and the Commonwealth Director of Public Prosecutions.
Anyone with information on the illegal importation of illicit tobacco is encouraged to contact Border Watch at Australia.gov.au/borderwatch. This can be done anonymously.