ABF stub out Chinese cigarette smuggling operation

A 52 year-old Chinese national appeared in the Perth Magistrates court today charged over his alleged role in an elaborate online cigarette smuggling operation run out of China.

Australian Border Force (ABF) officers arrested the man at his Morley home following an investigation into 12 air cargo consignments intercepted in Perth.

It will be alleged that inside the consignments of air coolers and computer towers officers found concealments totalling 30,600 cigarettes.

The amount of Duty and GST payable on that number of cigarettes is just under $32,000.

It is alleged the man set up a number of Post Office boxes in the southern Perth suburb of Langford, some under a false name.

It will also be alleged the consignments were sent by a man based in China who provided the 52 year-old with details of consignment numbers, concealment methods, cigarette prices and client orders.

The 52 year-old man was arrested and charged with 12 counts of aiding and abetting the importation of tobacco under section 233BABAD(1) of the Customs Act 1901.

The maximum penalty for these offences is ten years imprisonment, a fine not exceeding the $28,950, or both.

The man is currently in Australia on a temporary visa.

Superintendent of ABF Investigations WA Clint Sims said it would be alleged the man was part of a sophisticated operation to illegally import cigarettes ordered online to subvert Australia’s strict laws relating to cigarettes and tobacco.

“ABF officers are well aware of the many and varied creative ways criminals try to conceal prohibited and illegal goods coming across the border,” Superintendent Sims said.

“The ABF is targeting all levels of tobacco smuggling – whether it be by organised crime syndicates, local profiteers or individuals stockpiling personal use supplies.”

The illicit tobacco market in Australia is worth more than $660 million a year in evaded revenue.