A TOBACCO-smuggling and money laundering syndicate was smashed this week, with four men and two women arrested and close to $1m in cash seized in Melbourne.
Operation Hermoor began in February this year when the Australian Border Force identified an illegal tobacco importing network.
Since February, four consignments have been allegedly sent to a warehouse in Notting Hill with illegal tobacco concealed within boxes of tiles.
The ABF alleges the syndicate, through their tobacco smuggling operation, illegally imported approximately 2.5m cigarettes and evaded the payment of duty and excise to the Australian government in the amount of approximately $1.75m.
Following the arrests on Monday, AFP officers raided the Templestowe address and a warehouse in Notting Hill, seizing $775,000 in cash. It will be alleged $750,000 of the cash was collected in Sydney and driven back down to the Templestowe address on Monday (13 August 2018) by the two women.
Minister for Law Enforcement and Cyber Security Angus Taylor said the scale of the alleged money laundering and evasion of duty in this matter was extremely significant.
“This operation highlights the significant links between illicit tobacco and organised crime, which is a key reason we have set up the ABF-led Illicit Tobacco Taskforce to go after the key players in this lucrative black market,” Mr Taylor said.
“Those who seek to exploit the Australian economy for their own personal gain should be warned the Turnbull Government is continuously working to thwart their efforts.
“The Government is committed to disrupting organised crime syndicates, which cost the Australian economy an estimated $36 billion every year.
“This equates to $1,561 out of every individual Australian’s pocket and adds 6.3 per cent to the average cost of living.
“This is why we have invested heavily in our law enforcement agencies to ensure they have the resources they need to tackle these threats head on.”
The timely sharing of intelligence throughout this investigation by Xiamen Customs Anti-Smuggling Bureau under the supervision of Anti-Smuggling Bureau of General Administration of China Customs was critical to the successful outcomes achieved in Australia.
AFP Superintendent Krissy Barrett, national coordinator money laundering said following money laundering leads we are identify other crime types.
“By identifying and pursuing leads associated with money laundering the AFP was able to very successfully track those involved in organised criminal activity, predominantly trafficking of illicit substances such as tobacco, but also financing of other criminal enterprises,” Superintendent Barrett said.
“The timely sharing of information by the Xiamen Customs Anti-Smuggling Bureau under the supervision of the Anti-Smuggling Bureau of General Administration of China Customs was critical to the successful outcomes achieved here in Australia.
“This partnership is another demonstration of how international coalitions, such as those with Chinese authorities under Taskforce Blaze, are able to effectively disrupt criminal syndicates targeting Australia,” Superintendent Barrett said.