Six arrested for Tobacco import


A Craigieburn man is among six charged for allegedly trying to import 10 million illicit cigarettes into Victoria after a 16 month investigation.

It is alleged some of the men work for freight and transport logistics companies in trusted positions.

The six men faced the magistrates court on Tuesday, February 27 and are facing up 10 years imprisonment for the alleged importation, which had an estimated value of $15 million. It will be additionally alleged the syndicate attempted to avoid paying millions of dollars in Commonwealth excise.

Search warrants were executed on February 27 at a number of businesses and homes in Melbourne’s western suburbs.

It will be alleged several of the men have links to the group suspected of being behind a series of illicit tobacco imports into Victoria.

A 35-year-old Fraser Rise man is accused of using his position employed in transport and logistics to assist the syndicate to covertly collect and move the consignment he believed contained the illicit tobacco shipment upon its arrival into Australia.

A 45-year-old Point Cook man is an alleged facilitator for the criminal syndicate was arrested at a residential property on Tuesday.

He was accused of planning and facilitating the criminal tobacco import and using trusted insiders with knowledge of the transport and freight logistics industry in a bid to evade detection from law enforcement and subsequent Commonwealth taxes.

Both were charged with conspiracy to import tobacco products with the intention of defrauding the revenue.

It is alleged three of the group, including a 35-year-old Truganina man, a 31-year-old Altona Meadows man and a 35-year-old Craigieburn man, were involved in the importation and distribution of illicit tobacco throughout Victoria and have been charged with aiding, abetting, counsel or procure the importation of tobacco products with the intention of defrauding the revenue.

A 40-year-old Tarneit man was charged with alleged proceeds of crime offences and failing to comply with a court order.

Victorian Crime Command Commander Paul O’Halloran said crime involving tobacco has gotten out of hand.

“In particular, the past 12 months has given rise to a large number of deliberate and reckless arson attacks across a range of business, in particular tobacco retailers,” he said.

“We have been very clear about the risk this presents to the broader community and the potential for someone to be killed or seriously injured due to these fires.”