AN ADELAIDE court has fined two men found guilty of importing almost one tonne of illicit tobacco into Australia. A large portion of it was smuggled in a shipping container.

The men, who are brothers, were fined $250,000 each and received a suspended 15-month sentence.

The Australian Border Force had charged the brothers under the Customs Act with importing tobacco with the intention of defrauding revenue.

ABF laid the charges after its Illicit Tobacco Taskforce searched a shipping container in Adelaide and found more than 660 kilograms of illicit tobacco products.

ABF Regional Investigations in South Australia subsequently searched a number of homes and businesses in Adelaide and seized a further 300 kilograms of illicit tobacco and $547,510 in cash.

ABF Chief Superintendent Bart England said record levels of illicit tobacco were being seized at the border, and the penalty should serve as a deterrent to those involved.

“There is common misconception that engaging in the illicit tobacco trade is a victimless crime, but it is far from it,” he said.

“Aside from the well-known health impacts of smoking, buying illicit tobacco is a crime.

“It funds organised criminal syndicates and supports them to undertake other serious criminal activities that harm Australian society.”

Chief Superintendent England said the ABF in the 2022-23 financial year recorded more than 120,000 detections of illicit tobacco consisting of more than 1.7 billion cigarettes and more than 867 tonnes of loose leaf tobacco.

“These enforcement actions have deprived organised crime syndicates of an estimated $3.46 billion dollars in potential evaded duty, with the sustained efforts by authorities being heavily disruptive to syndicates’ business models.”

The Illicit Tobacco Taskforce was established in 2018 as one of the tobacco-related measures in response to the government’s Black Economy package.