ALMOST two million illegal cigarettes were seized in Brisbane this week in a massive Australian Border Force sting.
On Sunday, an airfreight consignment was examined by ABF officers after arriving into Brisbane.
There were allegedly 1,975,400 cigarettes in boxes inside, that had been falsely declared as dehumidifiers.
A further delivery took place on Wednesday at a storage facility in a South Brisbane suburb, where four adults, three men and one woman, were arrested.
The group faced Cleveland Magistrates Court yesterday, the ABF said.
The group was charged with tobacco smuggling offences under the Customs Act 1901.
ABF Acting Superintendent Robert Ansell said illicit tobacco can be sold at more than 60 times its offshore price.
"The profits from illicit tobacco sales are often funnelled back into other organised crime activities including the illicit drug trade. For this reason we are working closely with other law enforcement authorities, both here in Australia and offshore," Acting Superintendent Ansell said.
The ABF has stopped more than 400 tonnes of illicit tobacco from reaching the black market since its establishment in 2015.
The total duty evaded on the illicit tobacco is estimated at more than $294 million.
In the same period, more than 100 individuals have been charged with tobacco smuggling offences under the Customs Act 1901.
Tobacco smuggling is a criminal offence that denies the Commonwealth legitimate revenue and funds organised crime. The maximum penalty for tobacco smuggling is ten years imprisonment. Pecuniary penalties of up to five times the amount of duty evaded can also be imposed by the courts.
The cigarettes were shipped from Korea.
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