AUSTRALIAN Border Force investigators arrested two men following what the ABF called “large-scale operational activity” in Sydney targeting “trusted insiders within the cargo supply chain”.

In a statement the ABF said the two men are alleged to have been involved in abusing their positions as legitimate delivery drivers to facilitate the importation and distribution of illicit tobacco products.

The men were arrested and charged on 28 August, with both subsequently refused bail to appear before the Downing Centre Court on 13 September.

The ABF said officers executed 37 separate search warrants across Silverwater, Hillsdale, Prestons, Botany, Enfield and East Gardens on 28 and 29 August.

The raids resulted in the seizure of 1.5 million illicit cigarette sticks, with an evaded duty value of $1.74 million.

The ABF also seized 1.2 tonnes of molasses tobacco with an evaded duty value of $1.9 million. Officers also seized more than $300,000 in cash.

Officers also seized a “large quantity of electronic devices”.

ABF Commander Raef McDonough said criminal syndicates are sophisticated and can adapt and diversify their business model in attempts to ensure the continuous supply of illicit tobacco.

“These individuals, also known as trusted insiders, abuse the access available to them through their employment, and in turn, compromise supply chain integrity,” he said.

“Illicit tobacco profits are often linked to drug trafficking and money laundering, further lining the pockets of criminal syndicates while our communities struggle through cost of living pressures.”