Two Chinese nationals have been arrested after Australian Border Force (ABF) officers allegedly caught them in the act of collecting a shipment of approximately 1.3 million illicit cigarettes from China.
The investigation began after ABF officers at the Adelaide Container Examination Facility located the illicit tobacco in a shipping container labelled as ‘outdoor furniture’.
The total duty evaded on the tobacco is $1,013,127 and resulted in the arrest of the two men on Monday 10 September – a 36-year-old man on a bridging visa and a 34-year-old man on a resident return visa. Both men reside in New South Wales.
Ammunition and a ballistic vest were located during further warrant activity at a related property in Hendon. South Australia Police attended and seized these items.
ABF Investigations Commander Graeme Grosse said the result shows how the combined capability of the ABF can be brought to bear to prevent the movement of illicit tobacco and other prohibited goods across the border.
“Additionally, the discovery of ammunition and the ballistic vests indicates that people involved in the illicit tobacco trade can often be dangerous and part of wider criminal networks.”
“We remain committed in stopping the smuggling of illicit tobacco and our recently established Illicit Tobacco Taskforce is up and running and garnering results every day,” Commander Grosse said.
The men were taken to Port Adelaide Police Station and charged with contravening s233BABAD(1) of the Customs Act 1901. They were both refused bail and will appear in Port Adelaide Magistrates Court on 21 November 2018.
In the last financial year, the ABF made more than 110,000 detections of illicit tobacco at the border, including almost 240 million cigarettes and 217 tonnes of tobacco, worth more than $356 million in evaded duty.
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.