Illicit tobacco

Ten-million-dollar illicit tobacco network disrupted in WA

Nine people have been arrested as part of a cross-border investigation into an organised crime group linked to the trafficking of illicit tobacco.

Between Sunday, 16 June and Tuesday, 18 June, 50 search warrants were executed at private residences, storage units, and retail outlets including tobacco and convenience stores and gift shops in regional WA and the Perth metropolitan area.

During the warrants, 5.9 million illicit cigarettes, $1.7 million in cash, 1.4 tonnes of loose illicit tobacco, 41,000 vapes, and five vehicles with a combined value of over $500,000 were located and seized.

Nine people, including some with alleged links to a Middle Eastern crime group, were taken into custody during the warrants and have each been charged with received, possessed, concealed, disposed of or dealt with any money or other property that is the proceeds of an offence.

Amongst those arrested was a 29-year-old man, who is believed to be the head of the group and had moved to WA from Victoria to establish the illicit tobacco network.

Detective Acting Superintendent Jeff Beros, Serious and Organised Crime Division at the WA Police Force, said attractive profit margins can be generated from the sale of illicit tobacco and this has caused an environment where organised crime groups are aggressively competing for market share, resulting in violent offences such as criminal damage, threats and extortion being undertaken in our community.

“We have seen this violence and harm being undertaken in other parts of Australia and we are resolute in not to letting these groups flourish in Western Australia.

“These outcomes, including the arrest of the head of the group and his offsiders, sends a clear message to anyone who thinks they can undertake this type of criminal activity in Western Australia – you will be caught and you will be prosecuted.”

Commander Ranjeev Maharaj from the ABF said ABF officers have detected and seized record levels of illicit tobacco at Australian ports, making the supply chain a more hostile environment for criminal gangs looking to profit from the illicit tobacco market.

“Last financial year the ABF seized 1.7 billion illicit cigarettes in 120,000 consignments at the border, but this alone will not put an end to this insidious trade.

“The illicit tobacco trade is not a victimless crime, as profits raised from its sale fund other crimes, causing harm to the community in many ways.”

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1 thought on “Ten-million-dollar illicit tobacco network disrupted in WA”

  1. Great to see that the coalition’s model of selling tobacco in shops stops black market crime.

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