Chewing tobacco seizure at border leads to arrests in South Australia

The Australian Border Force (ABF) led Illicit Tobacco Taskforce (ITTF) has detected and seized 660 kilograms of chewing and loose leaf tobacco at the border that led to the arrest of a man in South Australia. The detection was the result of an international referral from a taskforce partner agency overseas.

On 14 April 2020 ABF located within a container from India 33 boxes containing more than 73 kilograms of chewing tobacco and 587 kilograms of loose leaf tobacco.

Following the seizure, officers from ABF Regional Investigations in South Australia carried out Custom Act warrants at five premises across South Australia, including two residences and three businesses resulting in a further seizure of approximately 300 kilograms of tobacco. More than half a million dollars was also seized along with a number of other evidential items.

The duty evaded on the attempted import is more than $848,000.

Superintendent of the Illicit Tobacco Taskforce Leo Lahey said the arrest sends a clear message about the ABF’s ability to detect illicit tobacco being imported and distributed.

“People often think they can send illicit goods through the border by hiding them in other legal goods. The ABF’s highly skilled officers, intelligence and sophisticated technology ensures illicit goods are detected and work towards prosecuting those responsible for these importations,” Superintendent Lahey said.

The maximum penalty for importing tobacco products with intent to defraud the Commonwealth Government of revenue is 10 years imprisonment.

The ITTF 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.

The ABF are continuing their investigation into the matter.

Anyone with information on the importation of illicit tobacco is encouraged to contact the ABF’s Border Watch at Referrals to the ABF can be provided anonymously.

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