MORE than five tonnes of illicit tobacco from Indonesia has been discovered in a shipping container at Melbourne, the Australian Border Force says.

ABF officers at the Container Examination Facility in Melbourne inspected a shipping container and seized illicit rough-cut tobacco equating to more than $5.69m in evaded duty.

Originating from Indonesia, the shipping container was labelled to contain items such as green tea, coffee, water, taro tea and coconut chips.

Upon examination ABF officers found more than 300 boxes containing illicit tobacco, totalling 5.22 tonnes.


Acting Regional Commander Ranjeev Maharaj said ABF Officers had been able to detect the concealment method via effective examination.

“We will continue to do everything we can to stop these illegal importations, which are defrauding the Commonwealth of legitimate revenue, and often funnel profits into organised crime,” Acting Commander Maharaj said.

The illicit tobacco market in Australia is reported to be worth about $600m a year in evaded revenue.

Anyone with information on the importation of illicit tobacco is encouraged to contact Border Watch at

New tobacco import requirements took effect on 1 July 2019, which now class most tobacco products as prohibited imports, and require a permit issued by the Department of Home Affairs.