JULY 22, 2020
Authorities have allegedly uncovered hundreds of thousands of illegal cigarettes and hundreds of kilograms of undeclared tobacco at a home in Melbourne.
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Hundreds of thousands of illegal cigarettes and hundreds of kilograms of undeclared tobacco have allegedly been uncovered during a raid at a home in Melbourne’s north.
Three women and a man were arrested when police raided the Bellarine Drive house in Lalor just before 7am on Monday.
Investigators from the Mill Park Divisional Response Unit, with help from the Australian Border Force and Australian Taxation Office, allegedly seized 300,000 cigarettes and 200kg of tobacco from the house as well as equipment for cigarette production.
Senior Constable Alistair Parsons said a 37-year-old Lalor woman was charged with possessing tobacco products with the intent of defrauding the revenue, possessing tobacco in excess of 100kg and possessing equipment for the illegal manufacture and production of tobacco.
She was bailed to face the Heidelberg Magistrates’ Court on November 13.
The remaining three people were released without charge pending further investigation. Police said the investigation was ongoing.
It comes after the tax office revealed this week it had seized and destroyed more than 131 tonnes of illicit tobacco in the 2019-20 financial year, representing an estimated $171 million in lost excise duty.
The ATO executed 19 raids during 2019-20 with more than 184 acres of illicit tobacco found growing in regional New South Wales, Victoria and Queensland, with almost 58 tonnes worth $75.5 million seized and destroyed in Victoria.
Assistant Commissioner Ian Read said the ATO was committed to disrupting organised crime syndicates that produced and supplied illegal tobacco for sale on the black market in Australia.
“The trade in illicit tobacco products in Australia has widespread negative consequences across the community,” Mr Read said.