More than fourteen million illegally imported cigarettes worth an estimated $9 million have been seized in Melbourne’s west.
A six-month Border Force operation led to the discovery of the cigarettes at Derrimut last week and five people have been arrested.
‘This is going to have a large impact on the cigarette trade,’ Police Inspector Andrew Holman said.
The alleged gang first came to the attention of authorities in February, with a number of consignments being monitored.
Pictured: Illegal cigarettes found in a shipment intercepted by Border Force last week
Five men were arrested over the massive shipment, which had a street value of $9million
Last week factories were raided in Dandenong, Derrimut and Campbellfield, while two men were allegedly caught trying to flee the country at Melbourne Airport.
The Superintendent of Investigations in Victoria, Craig Palmer, said the ABF has seized more than 400 tonnes of tobacco since its establishment.
He said tobacco smuggling was being monitored because of its link to organised crime and its cost to taxpayers.
‘The ABF continues to target illicit tobacco smuggling as a priority, not only does it fund organised crime groups, it continues to rip off legitimate tax payers of Australia by attempting to avoid paying Commonwealth revenue,’ he said.
‘Not only is smoking a significant health risk, smoking illicit cigarettes poses an even greater risk as the source of the tobacco and the conditions in which it is manufactured are unknown.’
The men, aged 23 to 37, remain in custody and are due to reappear at Melbourne Magistrates Court on November 6.
The maximum penalty for tobacco smuggling is 10 years’ imprisonment and/or a fine of up to five times the amount of duty evaded. Border Force claim the cigarettes would have required $9million in duty alone.
The men arrested, aged 23 to 37, remain in custody and are due to reappear at Melbourne Magistrates Court on November 6
Sorry we are not currently accepting comments on this article.