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  • Operation Greyhound sniffs out $42 million in illicit tobacco

    The Australian Taxation Office (ATO) led Operation Greyhound has uncovered and destroyed over 250,000 kilograms of illicit tobacco in regional New South Wales. The ATO undertook significant warrant activity with assistance from officers attached to the Murray River PD Rural Crime Team and the Proactive Crime Team from NSW Police Force.

    Officers located 24 acres of illicit tobacco crops in Koraleigh, New South Wales, with an estimated excise forgone value of approximately $42 million, and seized a picking machine and water pump.

    “The amount of illicit tobacco found is equivalent to the weight of 13 bulldozers. This was a sophisticated, organised operation,” acting Assistant Commissioner Megan Croaker said.

    This outcome demonstrates the ATO’s commitment to detecting, disrupting and dismantling crime syndicates that grow illicit tobacco.

    “Organised criminals view the illicit tobacco trade as low-risk and high-reward, but this simply isn’t the case. This result showcases the impact of our operations in stopping criminals in their tracks” Ms Croaker said.

    “The ATO is primarily focused on targeting the source of the illicit tobacco supply. By stopping illicit tobacco from going from crop to shop, it creates a level playing field for small businesses.”

    It has been illegal to grow tobacco in Australia for more than a decade. Penalties for growing, selling or possessing illicit tobacco are significant. If convicted, criminals may face up to 10 years’ imprisonment, up to a $330,000 fine, or both.

    The 2019–20 tax gap estimates that illicit tobacco cost the Australian community $909 million in lost excise revenue each year, instead being channelled into organised criminal activities.

    The ATO will continue to work with our cross-agency partners to ensure that illicit tobacco isn’t grown, manufactured or produced, stopping organised criminals from profiting in the process.

    If you suspect that illicit tobacco is being grown or manufactured in your community you can confidentially report it anonymously to us by completing the tip-off form,, or phoning 1800 060 062.

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    Last modified: 22 Feb 2022QC 67968