ATO and NSW Police bust another illegal tobacco operation

Another illegal tobacco operation has been shut down.

Officers from NSW Police and Australian Taxation Office discovered the 10.3 tonne haul near Goulburn last week.

The operation included a hothouse and three kilns on site – one which was in the process of drying tobacco during the search, as well as four acres of tobacco crops and a further four bales of tobacco.

The seized goods had an estimated street value of $13.3 million.

ATO assistant commissioner Ian Read said it had been another successful operation and reiterated that illicit tobacco was not a victimless crime, citing it took taxes from legal products which could have been spent on community services.

“The trade in illicit tobacco products in Australia has widespread negative consequences across the community. Tobacco growing operations are not run by small producers or farmers. They are run by organised criminal syndicates who deliberately engage in illegal activities,” Mr Read said.

“Involvement in illicit tobacco production is a serious offence. This type of activity takes vital money away from the community and places it directly into the hands of organised crime syndicates.

It was the second major seizure in two weeks, C&I last month reported officers had uncovered a farm of close to 50 acres near Port Macquarie, seizing and destroying 26 tonnes of illegal tobacco with a street value of more than $35.5 million.

More than $647 million is believed to be lost annually in Australia due to illegal tobacco and if convicted, offenders can face up to 10 years imprisonment.

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