TOBACCO detector dog Nayla has helped foil an apparent attempt to import illicit cigarettes from China hidden in a shipping container.
According to the Australian Border Force, X-rays of a consignment of quartz stone slab boxes in a sea container at Fremantle revealed anomalies.
ABF tobacco detector dog Nayla then sprang into action, the sharp-nosed hound sniffing out something fishy at the back of the container.
Officers used hammers to crack open the lids of the three suspect boxes and inside allegedly found a total of 334,000 cigarettes (16,700 packets) and 280 cigars, which would have attracted a combined duty and GST of almost $350,000.
The 33-year-old, a Korean national living in Lynwood, was arrested at a warehouse in O’Connor on Wednesday 29 July after he was allegedly caught packing some of the boxes of cigarettes from the sea container into his car.
He appeared in the Perth Magistrates Court on Wednesday 29 July and was granted conditional bail to re-appear on 14 August.
The 36-year-old, an Australian permanent resident who lives in Winthrop, was arrested at the same O’Connor warehouse on Thursday 30 July.
He appeared in the Perth Magistrates Court on Friday 31 July and was also released on conditional bail to reappear in the same court on 14 August 2020.
Investigations are ongoing to identify the involvement of other people in the importation of this illicit tobacco.
ABF Regional Commander for WA James Copeman praised the officers at the CEF who initially identified the suspicious consignment.
“This was a sophisticated attempt to smuggle illicit cigarettes across the Australian border and avoid the payment of a significant amount of duty and GST,” Commander Copeman said.
“People who engage in this kind of behaviour – whether it is growing, importing, supplying or buying black market tobacco – not only put money into the hands of organised crime, but take away potential income from retailers who abide by the law.”
Last financial year (2019/20) the ABF seized more than 175 tonnes of loose leaf tobacco and 421m cigarettes, with the amount of duty evaded totalling some $608m.