A SHIPPING container labelled ‘outdoor furniture’ was used to conceal a large consignment of illicit cigarettes, the Australian Border Force alleges.
Two Chinese citizens were arrested after ABF officers caught them seemingly in the act of collecting a shipment of about 1.3m illicit cigarettes from China.
The shipping container came under scrutiny at the Adelaide Container Examination Facility.
According to an ABF statement, the total duty evaded on the tobacco was $1,013,127 and resulted in the arrest of the two men on Monday 10 September – a 36-year-old man on a bridging visa and a 34-year-old man on a resident return visa. Both men live in New South Wales.
Ammunition and a ballistic vest were also found during further warrant activity at a related property in Hendon, a northern suburb of Adelaide. South Australia Police raised the property where they seized the items.
ABF Investigations Commander Graeme Grosse said the result showed how the combined capability of the ABF could be brought to bear.
“Additionally, the discovery of ammunition and the ballistic vests indicates that people involved in the illicit tobacco trade can often be dangerous and part of wider criminal networks,” Commander Grosse said.
“We remain committed in stopping the smuggling of illicit tobacco and our recently established Illicit Tobacco Taskforce is up and running and garnering results every day.”
The men were taken to Port Adelaide Police Station and charged with contravening the Customs Act.
They were denied bail and are to appear in Port Adelaide Magistrates Court on 21 November.
The ABF made more than 110,000 detections of illicit tobacco at the border during the last financial year, including almost 240 million cigarettes and 217 tonnes of tobacco, worth more than $356m in evaded duty.