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  • ATO and NSW Police shut down active tobacco operation in Goulburn

    The Australian Taxation Office (ATO) executed a warrant this week near Goulburn, New South Wales (NSW), shutting down an active illicit tobacco operation with a value of more than $13 million.

    ATO officers, with the assistance of NSW Police, located 4 acres of tobacco crops, 4 bales of tobacco, a hothouse and 3 kilns on the site. One kiln was turned on and in the process of drying tobacco leaf.

    The ATO seized and destroyed a total of over 10.3 tonnes of illicit tobacco which had a potential excise value of approximately $13.3 million.

    The ATO is responsible for detecting, investigating and prosecuting those who domestically grow or manufacture illicit tobacco products.

    Assistant Commissioner Ian Read said this is the second seizure in two weeks and another successful step in stamping out the illicit tobacco trade in Australia.

    “The trade in illicit tobacco products in Australia has widespread negative consequences across the community. Tobacco growing operations are not run by small producers or farmers. They are run by organised criminal syndicates who deliberately engage in illegal activities,” Mr Read said.

    “Involvement in illicit tobacco production is a serious offence. This type of activity takes vital money away from the community and places it directly into the hands of organised crime syndicates.

    “Engaging in the illicit tobacco trade is not victimless. It significantly deprives the community of taxes that are required to fund essential community services such as roads, schools and hospitals,” Mr Read said.

    The ATO estimates that illicit tobacco costs the Australian community $647 million in lost revenue each year.

    It has been illegal to grow tobacco in Australia for more than a decade. If convicted, growing tobacco carries a maximum penalty of up to 10 years imprisonment.

    The ATO is part of the Illicit Tobacco Taskforce (ITTF), which was established to investigate, prosecute and dismantle organised crime groups who use the proceeds of illicit tobacco to fund other criminal activity, as well as ensure the appropriate revenue is paid to the Australian Government.

    If you suspect that illegal tobacco is being grown or manufactured in your community you can confidentially report it online at ato.gov.au/illicittobacco or by calling 1800 060 062.

    For more information about illicit tobacco, visit ato.gov.au/illicittobacco

    Photos and videos of the operation

    Last modified: 07 Feb 2020QC 61364