Cash, vapes and illegal tobacco seized in huge multi-agency tobacco raids

Vision of the operation can be downloaded here​

The ABF-led Illicit Tobacco Taskforce (ITTF) and partner agencies have shattered a large scale illegal tobacco syndicate in a series of raids across QLD and NSW in one of the biggest busts of its kind in recent years.

The ABF-led investigation commenced in October 2022 following intelligence into a sophisticated illicit tobacco network under Operation HARVESTHOME. The network is suspected of illegal tobacco importation, distribution, storage, transport and money laundering representing a significant threat to the Australian community.

The criminal network has acquired a large number of tobacco retail outlets primarily in QLD, with a growing number spreading across other states and territories, all suspected of selling illegally imported tobacco and nicotine vaping products.

On 8 August 2023, the ABF supported by members of the Gold Coast Joint Organised Crime Team, consisting of the Australian Federal Police, Queensland Police Service, Queensland Health, Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA), Victoria Police and NSW Police Force (NSWPF) executed warrants at 11 properties across the South East Queensland, Tweed Heads, and Coffs Harbour regions.

Across the 11 premises, the ABF seized more than AUD$1.4 million in cash, in excess of 2,800,000 cigarette sticks, approximately 380 kilos of loose leaf tobacco, suspected counterfeit empty plain packaging, and documentary and electronic evidence to support prosecution against alleged Customs Act offences.

During the searches, suspected nicotine vaping products with an estimated street value of AUD$5.3 million were seized by the Queensland Health, TGA and NSWPF.

The cigarettes and tobacco products seized had a total combined potential excise value of more than $3.8 million. Officers also discovered cash counting machines, knuckle dusters, shotgun shells, and a small quantity of illegal drugs.

Full story can be read here.