ATO and Queensland Police seize $5.1m in illicit tobacco raids in Logan
Alongside Queensland Police, officers from the Australian Taxation Office uncovered the illicit tobacco during an operation that hit three properties in Logan, south of Brisbane.
Officers from the ATO and Queensland Police last Wednesday searched two commercial units in Berrinba where they discovered nearly 300,000 cigarettes and around 2,000 kilograms of leaf tobacco, known on the streets as ” chop-chop”.
A residential address in Crestmead was also searched, and an additional 1026 kilograms of “chop-chop” were reportedly seized.
The illicit tobacco had an estimated total excise value of $5.16 million, the ATO said.
“This is a significant result,” said the office’s acting assistant commissioner, Megan Croaker.
“Nearly 300,000 cigarettes is a lot of illicit and unregulated tobacco that has been taken off our streets.”
She said the operation should “serve as a warning” to anyone involved in any part of the illicit tobacco trade.
“Illicit tobacco is not victimless,” she said.
Tobacco taxes can be used to fund community services such as health and education, she said.
The tobacco harvest reportedly yielded 250,000 kilograms of product, the ATO said, worth a staggering $42 million in lost taxes.
It has been illegal to grow tobacco in Australia for over a decade.
The penalties for growing, selling or possessing illicit tobacco are significant, with criminals facing up to 10 years in prison and fines of up to $333,000.