RAIDS last week on homes, storage facilities and commercial properties in Melbourne have resulted in multiple arrests.
Operations by the Australian Border Force-led Illicit Tobacco Taskforce resulted in the seizures of illicit cigarettes, rough-cut tobacco (chop chop), cigarette manufacturing supplies, drug paraphernalia and a car.
At two of the homes, ITTF officers allegedly found evidence of a cigarette manufacturing operation.
Inspection uncovered rough cut tobacco as well as empty cigarette tubes and “a large quantity” of dried plant matter commonly used as cigarette filler.
Machinery such as cutters, scales, microwaves and filling machines used in the manufacture process was also located.
In addition, three unlawful “non-citizens” were found working at the manufacturing facility.
Two were arrested after trying to get away and upon their arrest, all three were taken to detention.
At one of the commercial premises, ITTF officers found filled cigarettes along with additional rough cut tobacco. A concealment was located in a wall behind a sliding false back of a shelf where more cigarettes were found.
A 47-year-old woman was arrested as the alleged leader of the operation. She is due to appear in court this week.
ITTF Superintendent Leo Lahey said the operation marked another successful outcome.
“We are very proud of our ITTF officers and colleagues for their exceptional work which has resulted in the taskforce seizing seven (7) 4.2m trucks worth of illicit sticks, rough-cut tobacco, cigarette manufacturing supplies and drug paraphernalia, successfully disrupting and dismantling this illegal manufacturing operation,” Superintendent Lahey said.
“We will continue to target the organised crime syndicates that trade in illicit tobacco.”