NSW Police Seized And Destroyed $28 Million Illicit Tobacco Syndicate In NSW Central West

One of the biggest busts in NSW history.

Article heading image for NSW Police Seized And Destroyed $28 Million Illicit Tobacco Syndicate In NSW Central West

NSW Police

New South Wales Police raided an illegal tobacco plantation worth an estimated $28 million in central west New South Wales.

A joint investigation with the Australian Taxation Office (ATO) was established last year after the police received a tip-off.

The information reveals that an illegal tobacco corp was being grown on a property in Muga, 55 kilometres East of Parkes. 

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A search warrant was granted at about 10 AM last Wednesday. Police and ATO officers seized and destroyed approximately 16 tonnes of illicit tobacco at the Muga property.

NSW Police have confirmed that there are no arrests made so far, and inquiries are continuing.

Detective Superintendent Stuart Cadden commented on this large-scale illicit plantation: “The seizure of this tobacco has resulted in the disruption of the syndicate’s supply chain, which in turn means the profits aren’t funnelled into organised crime”.

“The tobacco is simply one source of income that organised criminals use to fund their other illicit activities,” Mr Cadden said.

ATO Assistant Commissioner Justin Clarke said these organisations were not run by genuine farmers or landowners, but by criminals living and operating in local communities. 

“They use their profits to fund their lifestyles and engage in criminal behaviour well beyond the sale of illicit tobacco.

“Evading excise duty on tobacco costs the community millions of dollars that could be spent on essential community services.”

According to NSW Police, it has been illegal to grow tobacco in Australia for more than a decade. If convicted, growing tobacco carries a maximum penalty of up to 10 years of imprisonment. 

ABF Superintendent Sasha Barclay said these criminal syndicates were “sophisticated and ran like a business”.  

“What we’re seeing is more and more criminal syndicates are trying their hand at cultivation to keep up supply as ABF continues to increase the amount of illicit tobacco being detected and seized at the border,” Superintendent Barclay said.

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Caitlin Duan

11 April 2023

Article by:

Caitlin Duan

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