$50 million worth of illicit tobacco seized in NSW

An illicit tobacco operation in NSW worth more than $13 million has been shut down by the Australian Taxation Office, their second large-scale bust in a fortnight. Police assisted the ATO in locating four acres of tobacco crops, four bales of tobacco, a hothouse and three kilns for drying tobacco leaf on a Boxer Creek property near Goulburn in the state's Southern Tablelands. It will allege that more than 10.3 tonnes of tobacco was seized and destroyed.

Assistant Commissioner Ian Read said two males on the premises were interviewed in an ongoing investigation. He said tobacco-growing operations are run by organised criminal syndicates who deliberately engage in these activities to fund other criminal activities.

The ATO is the agency responsible for identifying and prosecuting growers or manufacturers of tobacco products in Australia. This is the second large-scale seizure of illicit tobacco made by the tax authority in a fortnight.

In January 2020, more than 26 tonnes, worth over $35 million, was located at five sites at Mount Seaview near Port Macquarie on the state's Mid North Coast. It was a larger bust, with 50 acres of tobacco crop, 30 were mature tobacco crop and 20 were seedling. In a short period of time it was a lot of tobacco seized but in comparison to previous years it wasn't, given the drought conditions.

Since 2006, it has been illegal to grow the crop in Australia and can lead to a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison. Most products are bound for sale on the black market and fund criminal activities.