Travellers removed from Melbourne over illicit tobacco imports

Eight Chinese nationals have been detained and removed from the country after Australian Border Force officers at Melbourne Airport identified the group of travellers bringing in large amounts of undeclared cigarettes.

On 6 May 2019, the group arrived in Melbourne on a flight from Hong Kong. During examination of the passengers, ABF officers located 177,063 cigarettes in the group’s luggage, which amounts to more than $160,000 in evaded duty.

As a result of the examinations, the ABF collected information and evidence which will be used to support ongoing investigation. The visas of all eight would-be travellers were cancelled by ABF officers and they were taken to the Melbourne Immigration Transit Accommodation pending their removal from Australia.

ABF Regional Commander Craig Palmer said travellers should be aware of the strict penalties that apply for deliberately breaching Australia’s laws around importing illicit tobacco.

“Targeting illicit tobacco is an operational priority for the ABF and through the use of intelligence, x-ray capability, tobacco detector dogs and our highly skilled officers, the ABF is well placed to detect illicit tobacco at our airports,” Commander Palmer said.

“People may think bringing in undeclared tobacco is harmless, but this trade has a massive cost on the Australian economy and those caught deliberately evading duty should expect to face fines, removal from Australia or even prosecution.”

“If you are travelling to Australia with cigarettes or other tobacco products the message is simple; declare it and pay the duty required.”

Anyone with information on the importation of illicit tobacco is encouraged to contact Border Watch at This can be done anonymously.

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