Two Chinese students have been charged after allegedly attempting to import 778kg of loose leaf tobacco into Australia from China.
On 17 July 2018, acting on information received through the Border Watch program, Australian Border Force (ABF) officers in Adelaide intercepted a sea cargo consignment containing the tobacco.
Following further investigations, in South Australia and New South Wales, ABF officers executed a warrant at an address in the Sydney suburb of Eastwood on 30 July 2018.
Further warrants were executed at another residential address in Marsfield on 31 July 2018.
A 24-year-old man and a 23-year-old man were arrested by ABF Officers and taken to Ryde Police Station where they were both charged with one count of contravening Section 233 BABAD of the Customs Act 1901.
The total amount of tax evaded is estimated to be more than $780,000.
ABF Investigations Commander Graeme Grosse said the ABF was committed to identifying and prosecuting those who deliberately attempt to defraud the Commonwealth by importing illicit tobacco.
“We know the profits made by those engaged in this illegal industry often end up supporting organised crime or other criminal activity,” Commander Grosse said.
“This is why we have made dismantling these networks a priority with our multi-agency Illicit Tobacco Taskforce (ITTF).”
“The ABF-led ITTF is already making huge progress in identifying illegal consignments and tracking down those involved – and we will continue to exploit every opportunity to dismantle these networks and recover lost funds.”
On 31 July 2018, both men appeared at Burwood Local Court. They did not apply for bail and were remanded in custody. They will appear again on 8 August 2018.
The maximum penalty for tobacco smuggling is ten years imprisonment. Penalties of up to five times the amount of duty evaded can also be imposed by the courts.