A 22 year old Malaysian national has been charged with cigarette smuggling by Australian Border Force (ABF) investigators in Perth following the discovery of 30 cartons allegedly concealed inside a false data cable spool.
The man, who is in Australia on a student visa, was arrested at his Nollamara home yesterday.
The consignment from China was intercepted at an air cargo depot on Saturday, February 29.
An x-ray revealed anomalies, and when the cable spool was further examined it’s alleged the 30 cartons, or 6,000 cigarettes, were found inside a compartment in the body of the spool, concealed behind a thin layer of cable.
The amount on duty payable on 6,000 cigarettes is just over $5,600.
The man has been charged with one count of importing tobacco products with the intention of defrauding the revenue, in contravention of section 233BABAD(1) of the Customs Act 1901.
The maximum penalty for this offence is 10 years’ imprisonment and/or a fine of up to five times the amount of duty evaded.
Investigators also allegedly found just under 1,300 cigarettes at the man’s home.
As a result, he was further charged with one count of having conveyed or have in his possession, goods that were tobacco products, reckless as to whether the goods were imported with the intent to defraud the revenue under s.233BABAD (2B) of the Customs Act 1901.
He was denied bail and is due to appear in the Perth Magistrates Court today (Thursday 5 March).
Superintendent of ABF Enforcement Operations in WA, Clint Sims, said the arrest was part of a wider investigation into illicit cigarette smuggling and distribution in WA.
“We’ll be alleging that this man was planning to sell the cigarettes on social media platforms at a significant profit,” Superintendent Sims said.
“ABF officers are well aware of the many varied and creative ways smugglers will try to get prohibited and illicit items across the border.
“The ABF is targeting all levels of tobacco smuggling – whether it be by organised crime syndicates, local profiteers or individuals stockpiling personal use supplies.”
The ABF is leading the multi-agency Illicit Tobacco Taskforce that combines the operational, investigative and intelligence capabilities of the ABF, Australian Taxation Office, Department of Home Affairs, Australian Criminal Intelligence Commission, Australian Transaction Reports and Analysis Centre and Commonwealth Director of Public Prosecutions.
Last financial year the ABF seized more than 310 tonnes of loose leaf tobacco and 426 million cigarettes, with the amount of duty evaded totalling some $668 million.
Anyone with information on the importation of illicit tobacco or cigarettes is encouraged to contact Border Watch at www.Australia.gov.au/borderwatch. Information can be provided anonymously.