Five men charged over multi-million dollar tobacco smuggling, NSW

Five men have been charged over their involvement in an alleged illicit tobacco smuggling syndicate operating in south-west Sydney, NSW Police say.

Detectives from the State Crime Command’s Gangs Squad established Strike Force Kindra in December 2016 to investigate reports of an extortion involving members of the Rebels outlaw motorcycle gang (OMCG).

The investigation has been assisted by Australian Border Force (ABF) investigators and detectives from the Australian Federal Police (AFP) led National Anti-Gangs Squad.

Their inquiries revealed a significant drug supply network, which included OMCG and other criminal groups planning large-scale importation of border controlled drugs.

On Wednesday 28 June 2017, investigators arrested 11 men and two women – aged between 19 and 60 – who were charged with a variety of offences. They remain before the courts.

Also during the investigation, Strike Force Kindra officers made inquiries into connections to a syndicate allegedly involved in the importation of illegal tobacco and counterfeit cigarettes.

Following extensive inquiries, Gangs Squad detectives and ABF investigators executed 14 search warrants at homes at Cabramatta, Canley Heights, Canley Vale, and Strathfield; businesses at Fairfield, Canley Vale, Carlingford, Wentworthville, and Marrickville, and storage warehouses at Chipping Norton and Warwick Farm, from 6am yesterday.

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During the warrants, police seized more than 6.2 million cigarettes, 22 boxes of loose tobacco, a small amount of cocaine and methylamphethamine, and more than $350,000 in cash.

Five men – aged between 26 and 59 – were arrested during the operation.

A 26-year-old Canley Heights man was charged with six counts of smuggling tobacco products, six counts of conspire to cause loss, participate in a criminal group, and deal with proceeds of crime.

A 59-year-old Cabramatta man was charged with directing a criminal group, six counts of smuggling tobacco products, six counts of conspire to cause loss, and deal with proceeds of crime.

Both men have been refused bail to appear at Liverpool Local Court today.

A 45-year-old Strathfield man was charged with smuggling tobacco products and participate in a criminal group contribute criminal activity.

He was granted strict conditional bail and is due to appear at Burwood Local Court on Monday 28 August 2017.

A 51-year-old Canley Vale man was charged with supply prohibited drug.

A 48-year-old Chipping Norton man was charged with smuggling tobacco products and deal with proceeds of crime.

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Both men were granted strict conditional bail and are due to appear at Liverpool Local Court on Monday 28 August 2017.

Police are urging anyone with information in relation to the importation of illegal tobacco to call Crime Stoppers.