Australian Border Force investigators have shut down an illicit tobacco smuggling operation, allegedly run out of a shop in Sydney’s south west.

On 28 March 2019, a container arrived into Melbourne from Lebanon. An examination by ABF officers revealed about 1.8tonnes of molasses tobacco and 30kg of rough cut tobacco, concealed within food packaging.

On 3 April 2019, following further investigations, ABF offices raided two premises in Sydney – a business in Condell Park and a storage facility in Granville.

About 700kg of molasses tobacco and 80,000 sticks of cigarettes were seized at the business, and a further 300kg of molasses tobacco was seized at the Granville warehouse.

Investigators believe the tobacco was being sold from the Condell Park shop.

The total amount of duty evaded on the 80,000 cigarettes and 2.8 tonnes of molasses tobacco seized is more than $2 million.

“We’ve shut down multiple sophisticated smuggling rings in Sydney in just the past month… It just goes to show, these criminals aren’t going to get away with it,” ABF regional investigations NSW acting superintendent John Fleming said.

“But as long as there’s a market for illicit tobacco in Australia, unfortunately they will continue to try,” he said.

“People need to be aware of what they’re buying – not only is the profit usually funnelled back into organised crime, but the source of the product and conditions it’s manufactured in are unknown.”

The investigation is currently ongoing.

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