AUSTRALIAN Border Force officers arrested a man at Melbourne International Airport on Sunday over his alleged involvement in the attempt to smuggle 4.5m cigarettes via three separate sea cargo consignments in April.
ABF officers stopped the dual Australian/Vietnamese citizen for a baggage examination as he attempted to board a flight to Vietnam, and further investigations revealed the man had links to the large-scale tobacco smuggling operation.
The shipping containers containing the tobacco were detected and seized during a six-day period at the Melbourne Container Examination Facility and were marked as containing toilet paper, kitchen paper towels and napkins.
Each consignment contained 1.5m undeclared cigarettes, with a total amount of evaded duty estimated to be at $3.2m.
Assistant Commissioner Enforcement Command Sharon Huey said the ABF is seeing an increase in the amount of illicit tobacco being seized in Victoria thanks to a focus on detecting it and investigating the criminal groups importing it.
“Detecting and stopping illicit tobacco is one of the ABF’s top priorities and those looking to make a profit through these means should know that we will catch up with them,” Assistant Commissioner Huey said.
“We’ve invested significantly to upgrade our detection capability at the Melbourne Container Examination Facility and, through the Tobacco Strike Team and the recently announced Illicit Tobacco Taskforce, we are increasing our ability to investigate these criminal enterprises.”