Three men have been charged following an investigation into an illegal tobacco plantation in the state’s south.
Earlier this month, police received information that an illegal tobacco crop was being grown on a property in Dalton, approximately 60km west of Goulburn.
Detectives and Rural Crime Investigators from The Hume Police District commenced an investigation in consultation with investigators from the Australian Taxation Office and the Australian Border Force-led Illicit Tobacco Taskforce.
Police and ATO officers attended the Rugby Road property and executed an excise warrant yesterday (Thursday 14 May 2020), and allegedly found 1.9 tonne of tobacco drying at the property.
The seizure is estimated to have an unpaid excise of $2.3 million.
A crime scene was established, and arrangements have since been made to destroy the crop.
Three men – aged 27, 29 and 59 – were arrested at the property and taken to Goulburn Police Station, where they were each charged with manufacture tobacco/seed/plant/leaf 500kg or above under the Taxation Administration Act 1953.
The two younger men were refused bail and are due to appear in Goulburn Local Court today (Friday 15 May 2020).
The 59-year-old man was granted conditional bail and is due to appear in Goulburn Local Court on Wednesday 29 July 2020.
Inquiries are continuing.
The ATO estimates that illicit tobacco costs the Australian community $647 million in lost revenue each year.
It has been illegal to grow tobacco in Australia for more than a decade. If convicted, growing tobacco carries a maximum penalty of up to 10 years imprisonment.
If you suspect that illegal tobacco is being grown or manufactured in your community, you can confidentially report it online at ato.gov.au/illicittobacco or by calling 1800 060 062.