Tuesday 4 September 2018

Australia's new tobacco industry

Tobacco duty went up again in Australia on Saturday. The annual hike of 12.5% (plus sales tax) brings the price of an average pack of 25 up to $34 (£19).

You'd expect nothing less in the World Leader of Tobacco Control. Australian governments have been doggedly fighting smokers the tobacco industry for years. Alas, a new tobacco industry has emerged which is rather less compliant with the law, so let's see how those magnificent, evidence-based anti-smoking policies (plain packaging, sky-high taxation and a ban on vaping) have been working out in the last few months, shall we?

16 August:
Six Chinese family members accused of smuggling millions of cigarettes into Australia by hiding them in tiles are charged with laundering $11 million in organised crime money

A Chinese family allegedly laundered at least $11 million of dirty money for organised crime groups, after federal police seized illegally imported cigarettes in Melbourne.

Four men and two women, who are all from the same family, have been charged with smuggling tobacco and dealing with the proceeds of crime, police confirmed on Thursday.

1.5 tonnes of illicit weed seized near Grafton

The Illicit Tobacco Taskforce (ITTF) is continuing to disrupt the illicit tobacco market in Australia, this time seizing and destroying 1.5 tonnes of tobacco with a potential excise value of more than $1.3 million from a property near Grafton.

... Recent estimates from the ATO and the Department of Home Affairs reveal that almost $600 million in tobacco duty was foregone in 2015-16 financial year as a result of the trade in illicit tobacco.

It has been illegal to grow tobacco in Australia for more than a decade, with no licensed tobacco producers growing the crop since 2006.

Since July 2016, the ATO has undertaken 37 seizures totalling 231 tonnes of illicit tobacco with estimated tobacco duty forgone of $194 million.

In the last financial year the ABF also made more than 110,000 detections of illicit tobacco at the border including almost 240 million cigarettes and 217 tonnes of tobacco, worth more than $356 million in evaded duty.

Chinese university students arrested after 750kg of illegal tobacco seized at Adelaide docks

Australian Border Force officers have seized more than 750kg of loose leaf tobacco hidden in a sea cargo consignment at the Adelaide docks.
The haul of illegal tobacco, which is worth hundreds of thousands of dollars on the black market, was destined for New South Wales.

Six tonnes of tobacco seized from illegal crops in Northern Territory 

Six tonnes of illegal tobacco leaves and vast fields of mature plants worth more than $13m in lost tax have been seized on a rural property in the Northern Territory.

This bust on the sophisticated, 7-hectare crop outside Katherine was the first successful strike by a taskforce bringing together agencies including the Australian Tax Office and Australian Border Force.

Cigarettes smuggled into Australia in children's toys: police 

Australian Border Force officials have smashed an alleged Chinese syndicate smuggling tobacco and cigarettes into Australia hidden in children's toys.

A Sydney man, who police allege was using his position as a delivery driver to assist the criminal gang, has been arrested and charged with illicit tobacco offences.

Nearly 60 million illegal cigarettes seized in major border operation

A major joint operation between Queensland Police, the Australian Border Force, the Department of Home Affairs, ACIC and NSW Police has seized more than 57 million illegal cigarettes at the Australian border.

The cigarettes, worth more than $40 million in evaded duty, were being imported from south-east Asia by a "serious" organised crime syndicate.

Six alleged members of tobacco smuggling ring arrested
The Australian Border Force have disrupted a highly-organised tobacco smuggling syndicate, stopping the flow of nearly three million illicit cigarettes.

Airport bust uncovers 4.5 MILLION cigarettes disguised as toilet paper as accused smuggler faces court over the contraband

Officers have seized 4.5 million undeclared cigarettes being smuggled into the country and arrested a duel citizen over the bust.

Australian Border Force officers stopped the 43-year-old man for a baggage search at the Melbourne International Airport on Sunday after uncovering a massive haul of smuggled tobacco.

'We will find you': Border Force bust black market on cigarettes 

The Australian Border Force (ABF) has uncovered 10 tonnes of tobacco allegedly illegal imported into Melbourne.

ABF officers swooped on a number of homes across the city this week as part of ongoing efforts to bust open the cigarette black market.

ATO seizes, destroys, illegal tobacco in Dubbo and Coonamble raids 

Two raids in Dubbo and Coonamble saw Australian Taxation Office officers seize and destroy an estimated $13 million worth of illegal tobacco.
​Over 7,000 kg of illegal tobacco plants and more than 500 kilograms of dried tobacco bales were seized from the two properties and destroyed.

Three tractors valued at nearly $100,000 in total and a range of equipment, including kilns and drying machines were also seized.

Owners of a property 'unaware' a record 28 tonnes of illegal tobacco worth $60 million was being grown on their land

A record 28 tonnes of illegal tobacco with an estimated street value of $60 million has been seized at properties near Bundaberg.

The Australian Taxation Office (ATO) announced on Wednesday it had seized the tobacco following a joint operation with Queensland police.

Officers exercised warrants at four properties south of Bundaberg on Tuesday following an 18-month investigation which also included members of the Australian Border Force.

Perth baker made plenty of dough smuggling two tonnes of tobacco

A Perth bakery owner imported more than two tonnes of tobacco illegally into Australia, defrauding the Commonwealth to the tune of almost $2 million, a WA court has heard.

And that's just the fraction of the illicit market that the cops managed to track down. This is going great!

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