ATO seizes, destroys, illegal tobacco in Dubbo and Coonamble raids

Photo: File.
Photo: File.

Two raids in Dubbo and Coonamble saw Australian Taxation Office officers seize and destroy an estimated $13 million worth of illegal tobacco.

​Over 7,000 kg of illegal tobacco plants and more than 500 kilograms of dried tobacco bales were seized from the two properties and destroyed.

Three tractors valued at nearly $100,000 in total and a range of equipment, including kilns and drying machines were also seized.

Both crops were raided on March, 14.

The the search warrants were conducted with the assistance of New South Wales police.

ATO Assistant Commissioner Peter Vujanic said the crops were discovered following a tip off from local police.

“This demonstrates the value of cross-agency collaboration in detecting and dealing with offenders,” he said.

Mr Vujanic said as well as the activity in Dubbo and Coonamble, there have been 22 investigations since June 2016 that resulted in the seizure of illegal tobacco worth an estimated $150 million of unpaid excise.

The two raids in Dubbo and Coonamble follows on from significant raids in recent weeks across regional Victoria and Queensland.

The ATO is responsible for managing the risk associated with illegal tobacco products grown or manufactured within Australia. Involvement in domestic illegal tobacco production is a serious offence.

“This type of activity takes valuable government revenue from the community and places it in the hands of organised syndicates,” Mr Vujanic said.

Investigations are ongoing.