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More than AUD 171 million of illegal tobacco seized

21 Jul 2020. More than 131 tonnes of illegal tobacco, worth AUD 171 million (USD 119.7 million) in taxes, has been seized and destroyed by the Australian Taxation Office (ATO), PerthNow reported.

ATO officers, local police and border force officers executed 19 search warrants and found more than 74 hectares of illicit tobacco growing across regional New South Wales, Victoria and Queensland, the report said.

“Tobacco growing operations are not run by small producers or farmers. They are run by organised crime syndicates who deliberately engage in illegal activities to fund their extravagant lifestyles and other criminal activity. We’re finding crops in regional and remote areas of the country, being grown on land being leased from unsuspecting owners under the guise of growing vegetables,” Assistant Commissioner Ian Read was quoted as saying.