ATO Seize $52 Million Worth Of Illicit Tobacco At NSW Border

ATO urge community to remain vigilant

Article heading image for ATO Seize $52 Million Worth Of Illicit Tobacco At NSW Border

9 News

The Australian Taxation Office has seized 280,000 kilograms of illegal tobacco over two separate busts in regional NSW.

The ATO found the tobacco which is estimated to weigh the same as 14 bulldozers, at a property in the Snowy Valley region and another in Thule along the NSW border.

The total street value of the haul is estimated at $52 million.

Stay up-to-date on the latest news with The NSW Briefing - keeping you in the loop with the region’s breaking news as it hits. 

ATO Acting Assistant Commissioner Megan Croaker said that illicit tobacco directly impacts the community.

"Illicit tobacco is often grown by organised crime syndicates and the trade deprives the community of millions of dollars of taxes that could otherwise be used to fund essential community services," she said. 

"November to May is peak growing season for illicit tobacco crops.”

The first bust took place on March 29, with the ATO and police locating a 33-acre crop of illicit tobacco in Thule along the NSW/Victorian border.

Police also found 756 kg of tobacco leaves at the scene.

The tobacco found at the Thule location is estimated to be worth over $40 million.

The second bust took place two days later at a property in the Snowy Valley region, where police found 7.6 acres of tobacco crops and two kilns full of over 4,000 kg of drying tobacco.

More tobacco was found inside a shed, the garage and inside the house which was worth approximately $11.3 million.

The ATO are asking anyone who recognises an illegal tobacco farm to contact police. 

"We urge the community to look out for unusual farm works, earthworks along creeks or riverbeds and large, leafy plant crops that resemble kale, cabbage or corn," Ms Croaker said.

Anyone caught selling or growing illegal tobacco can be fined up to $333,000 or can face up to 10 years in prison.

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Georgie Marr

5 April 2022

Article by:

Georgie Marr

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