Two men and one woman have been arrested for offences relating to the importation and possession of illicit tobacco under the Customs Act 1901.
The Illicit Tobacco Taskforce (ITTF), led by the Australian Border Force (ABF), undertook a number of warrants which resulted in the seizure of nine cigarette machines, commercially-produced cigarette packaging and over 100 mail packages containing an estimated one tonne of illicit tobacco.
Investigations remain ongoing.
Commander Special Investigations, Greg Linsdell, said the tobacco black market is a serious issue, and the ABF remain committed to stopping the importation of illicit tobacco at our borders.
“Importing tobacco via mail is strictly prohibited. During the 2020-21 financial year, the vast majority of all tobacco detections were in international mail,” Commander Linsdell said.
“This activity demonstrates that ABF will investigate and arrest anyone who attempts to import tobacco products through exploitation of the mail system in order to circumvent Australia’s border controls.
“The penalties for smuggling tobacco are severe and can include up to 10 years’ imprisonment and/or a fine of up to five times the amount of duty evaded.
“As international travel resumes, I would also like to remind the public that travellers arriving in Australia are limited to 50 cigarette sticks, or 25 grams of other tobacco products, duty-free. Individuals who exceed this amount will be required to pay the duty or forfeit the excess amount.”
The ABF leads the multi-agency ITTF which is focussed on proactively targeting, disrupting and dismantling serious actors and organised crime syndicates that deal in illicit tobacco.
It combines the operational, investigative, and intelligence capabilities of the ABF, Australian Taxation Office, Department of Home Affairs, Australian Criminal Intelligence Commission, AUSTRAC and Commonwealth Director of Public Prosecutions.
Anyone with information about the importation of illicit tobacco should contact Border Watch at abf.gov.au/borderwatch. By reporting suspicious activities, you help protect Australia’s border and the community. Information can be provided anonymously.
Quitting smoking is the best thing you can do for your health. Contact Quitline at https://www.quit.org.au/ for help to quit smoking. You can call the hotline on 13 QUIT (13 7848), to talk to a counsellor or request a call back.