Saturday, April 20, 2024

700kg of illicit tobacco seized by Victorian Police

VIC

Victoria Police have seized a further 700kg of illicit tobacco overnight, following two days of activity as part of the ongoing investigation into organised crime syndicates linked to illicit tobacco.

Over the course of Wednesday and Thursday, Members of Taskforce Lunar executed 36 search warrants – 34 at retail outlets and two at residential properties.

During the searches, investigators uncovered intelligence that suggested a property in Beveridge may be a storage facility for illicit tobacco.

A warrant was subsequently executed at the MacGregor Road address, where police located over 700kg of loose-leaf tobacco.

In total, police seized:

• 53,147 e cigarettes (vapes) with a street value of over $1.5million;

• 712,385 cigarettes with duty excise evaded totalling over $884,000;

• Over one tonne of loose-leaf tobacco, with duty excise evaded approximately over $1.7million;

• 2 kg of cannabis;

• Over $26,000 in cash;

• A small quantity of cocaine;

• Two ASP batons and;

• Industrial tobacco manufacturing equipment.

Six people were arrested over the two-day period, with a 40-year-old Northcote man charged and bailed in relation to drug offences.

The other five people were released pending further enquiries.

The warrants executed this week targeted retail outlets believed to be involved in the sale of illicit tobacco in Victoria.

Members of the taskforce were joined at the warrants on 18 and 19 October by police from the VIPER Taskforce, Crime Command and North West Metro Region, along with representatives from Australian Border Force (ABF), Australian Tax Office (ATO), Australian Federal Police (AFP), Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) and Sherriff’s Office.

Police attended 34 stores in Bentleigh, Bacchus Marsh, Broadmeadows, Bundoora, Carlton, Hoppers Crossing, Glenroy, Kurunjang, North Melbourne, Flemington, Northcote, Moonee Ponds, St Albans, Melbourne CBD, Strathmore, Footscray, Melton West, Melton South, Collingwood, West Footscray, Reservoir, Fitzroy, Sunshine, Keilor Downs and Mernda.

Investigators continue to appeal to anyone, especially store owners and staff, who has information about these incidents and who is responsible to come forward.

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.au.

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