Tax office seizes $50MILLION of black market tobacco in two massive busts

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An alleged illegal tobacco operation worth more than $13 million has been raided by authorities. 

It is the second bust in as many weeks with the combined total of the crops worth $50million.  

Four acres of the illicit crop was discovered near Goulburn in southern New South Wales this week, officers from the Australian Taxation Office and NSW Police say. 

Officers also allege they found four bales of dried tobacco, a hothouse, and three drying kilns on the property. 

More than 10.3 tonnes of the alleged illegal tobacco was destroyed by authorities, reports the ABC. 

Assistant Commissioner Ian Read said two males who were at the property have been interviewed. 

‘There are no charges at this time as it’s an ongoing investigation,’ Mr Read said. 

‘In our view, tobacco-growing operations are not run by small producers or farmers, they’re run by organised criminal syndicates who deliberately engage in these activities to fund their other criminal activities.’ 

It is the second haul of alleged illegal tobacco found this year with more than 26 tonnes worth $35 million located at five sites near Port Macquarie. 

‘It was a much larger exercise with 50 acres of tobacco crop, 30 of which were mature tobacco crop and 20 were seedling,’ Mr Read said. 

It has been illegal to grow tobacco in Australia since 2006 with penalty of up to 10 years prison. 

Mr Read said said the tobacco would have made its way to the black market and the ATO had made a significant step in disrupting the illegal supply of tobacco. 

 

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