Last week, the Australian Border Force (ABF)-led Illicit Tobacco Task Force (ITTF) seized and destroyed over 100 acres of illicit tobacco crop across three locations in regional New South Wales and Victoria.
This included an operation in Kyalite, New South Wales which is the largest crop ever disrupted by the ITTF totalling in excess of 65 acres.
Following the successful operations, ITTF officers from the ABF, Australian Tax Office (ATO), Victoria Police and NSW Police destroyed over 366 tonnes of illicit tobacco which would have otherwise been used to fund serious and organised crime.
Assistant Minister for Customs, Community Safety and Multicultural Affairs said the success of this operation demonstrates the strong multi-agency commitment to dismantling the illicit tobacco trade and their associated criminal activities.
“The Illicit Tobacco Task Force is focused on targeting, disrupting and dismantling criminal syndicates who trade in illicit tobacco,” Assistant Minister Wood said.
“All tobacco crop farms in Australia are illegal. They often employ and exploit illegal workers, steal water from legitimate farmers and use the proceeds to fund other illegal activities.
“The disruption of these illegal tobacco growing operations is a significant accomplishment and I congratulate all officers involved,” Assistant Minister Wood said.
The ITTF combines the operational, investigative and intelligence capabilities of the ABF, ATO, Department of Home Affairs, Australian Criminal Intelligence Commission, Australian Transaction Reports and Analysis Centre and Commonwealth Director of Public Prosecutions.
Anyone with information on the importation of illicit tobacco is encouraged to contact Border Watch at australia.gov.au/borderwatch. This can be done anonymously.