Taskforce Trident was set up last year to police Melbourne’s port. Consisting of Victorian police, Customs, Australian Federal Police and the Australian Crime Commissions, it has been confirmed that they have seized eighty million cigarettes – more than 70 tonnes of tobacco – and uncovered one of the biggest illegal tobacco syndicates in Australian history.
The tobacco was imported in 15 containers, the first of which was intercepted in January. Hidden behind legitimate goods, which included food, the tobacco did not show up on container x-rays. Imported from Indonesia and the United Arab Emirates, along with several other countries, the entire importation evaded more than $67 million in taxes and revenue.
It is still not known what “vulnerabilities” the group had exploited in the port system. It has not been ruled out that there has been corrupt conduct by port officials. Ten people have been arrested with further investigations and arrests expected.
It appears that the syndicate had targeted Australia due to the plain packaging laws.