Melbourne new hot spot for tabacco smugglers: Customs

From: Herld Sun

TOBACCO smugglers are targeting Melbourne following record shipments  of “chop chop” and cigarette seizures at Sydney’s docks.

Customs warns Melbourne is the new hot spot for crime gangs shipping  cigarettes from Asia and Europe.

Customs regional director of Victoria, Graham Krishof, said shipments were  becoming more frequent and syndicates were using sophisticated techniques to  hide the contraband.

“There have been more tobacco shipments in Melbourne following a number of  detections in Sydney,” Mr Krishof said.

“We do not see big seizures in sea cargo as a daily occurrence, but when we  do the shipments are getting bigger. And we are seeing very sophisticated  techniques to hide things.”

He said containers 6-12m long were a big area to search.

“Often the goods are professionally manufactured, with the illegal items  inside,” he said.

Last year $64.8 million worth of illegal tobacco was found in containers in  Melbourne.

Seven separate shipments were detected in the first two months of this  year.

One find uncovered a container carrying more than 7.5 million cigarettes.

Packets of illegal cigarettes are sold at corner shops in Melbourne for as  little as $9 – almost half price.

Proceeds from tobacco smuggling are often used by crime gangs to fund other  illegal activities, including terrorism and drug trafficking.

In a bid to curb the growing illegal imports, the Customs Amendment Bill was  passed last year. Tobacco smuggling now carries a 10-year jail penalty.

It is estimated 2 per cent of Australian smokers buy illegal cigarettes and  tobacco.


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