11/29/2023 | Press release | Distributed by Public on 11/28/2023 19:49
Members from the VIPER Taskforce have charged a man overnight and seized a significant quantity of illicit tobacco products as part of the ongoing Taskforce Lunar investigation into organised crime syndicates linked to illicit tobacco.
This particular investigation commenced after police received intelligence to suggest large amounts of illicit tobacco were being stored in sheds to be supplied to tobacconists on a daily basis.
Members of the taskforce yesterday executed warrants at a residential address in Hoppers Crossing, three storage facilities in Highett and Korumburra (2) as well as a tobacco store in Korumburra.
As a result, the following was seized:
• Over 528,000 cigarettes with duty excise totalling over $656,000
• 25kg of loose leaf tobacco with duty excise evaded totalling over $46,000, and
• Over 1600 e-cigarettes (vapes) with a street value of over $48,000.
A 48-year-old Hoppers Crossing man, who police will allege was the supplier, was arrested and charged with the Commonwealth offence of possess/convey tobacco with intent to defraud the revenue.
He was bailed to appear at Werribee Magistrates' Court on 1 July, 2024.
The investigation remains ongoing.
Anyone with information about these incidents or with further information about illicit tobacco is urged to contact Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000 or submit a confidential crime report at www.crimestoppersvic.com.auExternal Link
Quotes attributable to Detective Inspector Craig Darlow, VIPER Taskforce:
"We continue to urge the community or those involved in the tobacco retail industry and who have any information to come forward and speak to police. Any piece of information could be key in bringing this dispute to an end.
"It is critical that anyone purchasing illicit tobacco understands the ramifications of doing so - you are directly funding organised crime groups.
"The profits from the sale of illicit tobacco will fund further and often incredibly serious criminality, such as the importation of illicit drugs and firearms."
Reviewed 29 November 2023