Illegal tobacco crop worth A$84m found in Australia

Illegal tobacco crops estimated to be worth around A$84m ($65m) in excise value have been confiscated by the authorities in Australia.

The Illicit Tobacco Taskforce (ITTF), a multi-agency taskforce led by the Australian Border Force, discovered the crops during a two-day operation aimed at disrupting three illicit tobacco growing operations across the Victoria and New South Wales regions.

On March 3 enforcement officers discovered 65 acres of tobacco crops near Kyalite in New South Wales, along with 29 acres in Beverford, Victoria, worth A$36m. The operation also resulted in the seizure and destruction of over 183 tonnes of illicit tobacco and 140kg of processed tobacco bales, again worth about A$36m.

On March 4, a raid at a property in Vinifera, Victoria where they located about 13 acres of illicit tobacco crops along with almost 61 tonnes of illicit tobacco, with a potential excise value of A$12m.

Australian Taxation Office (ATO) Assistant Commissioner Ian Read said the operation was one of the largest ever undertaken to disrupt illicit tobacco growing operations in the country, and further evidence of the large-scale influence of criminal networks on the trade.

Anti-Counterfeit Packaging Market by Technology, End-Use Industry and Region - Global Forecast to 2025

“Tobacco growing operations are not run by small producers or farmers,” he said. “They are run by organised crime syndicates who deliberately engage in illegal activities to fund their extravagant lifestyles and other criminal activity.”

The growing of illicit tobacco in Australia often involves the illegal sourcing of water, which undermines legitimate farmers and government sustainability measures, he added.

“Engaging in the illicit tobacco trade is not a victimless crime. It significantly deprives the community of taxes that are required to fund essential community services such as roads, schools and hospitals.”

The illicit tobacco market in Australia is worth about A$822m a year in evaded revenue. It has been illegal to grow tobacco in Australia for more than a decade. If convicted, growing tobacco carries a maximum penalty of up to 10 years imprisonment.

Tobacco crops grown illegally are often used to manufacture counterfeit cigarettes, which can be produced in squalid conditions and can contain much higher levels of cancer-causing chemicals than even genuine brands, along with other contaminants like asbestos, mould, dust, dead flies, rat droppings and even human excrement.

Related articles:

     Want our news sent directly to your inbox?

Yes please 2


Home  |  About us  |  Contact us  |  Advertise  |  Links  |  Partners  |  Privacy Policy  |   |  RSS feed   |  back to top