AUSTRALIAN Border Force officers seized more than 20m cigarettes being smuggled to Australia in two sea-cargo containers well before the consignment arrived on our shores.
A joint operation between the ABF Tobacco Strike Team and the Taiwan Customs Administration snagged the 20.1m Australia-bound cigarettes in Taiwan after they were shipped from Vietnam.
Taiwan Customs seized the cigarettes.
ABF Assistant Commissioner, enforcement command, Sharon Huey said the operation would have significant disruption effects for the illicit tobacco market in Australia.
“These cigarettes are worth about $14.2m in evaded revenue and, had they made it into the Australia market without duty being paid, that money would likely flow straight to other criminal pursuits,” Assistant Commissioner Huey said.
“The ABF works closely with our international partners to target illicit tobacco imports, particularly those with a high-value of revenue evaded and those with links to serious criminal actors.”
“This co-operation will be further enhanced under the recently announced Illicit Tobacco Taskforce, which will be led by the ABF and will provide greater opportunities to tackle illicit tobacco before, at, and after the border.”
Taiwan Customs Administration Director of Investigation Jack Chen said the successful interdiction highlighted the close working relationship and the effectiveness of the cooperation between Taiwan Customs and the ABF.
“To prevent smuggling and secure government revenue are common goals of all customs administrations,” Director Chen said.
“We are glad that, with the intelligence provided by the ABF, we are able to seize this illicit tobacco and thus achieve the above-mentioned goals.”
Investigations into the source of the tobacco and those involved in the shipment are continuing.