31 May 2024

WATCH: Over $500,000-worth of illegal tobacco products allegedly seized during major Canberra raids

| Albert McKnight
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Australian Border Force and police officers allegedly seized 285,000 cigarette sticks and close to 2000 disposable vapes during raids in Canberra on Wednesday (27 May). Screenshot: ABF.

It is estimated that more than half a million dollars-worth of allegedly illegal tobacco products have been seized during an operation in the ACT that is said to have disrupted a major supplier.

The Australian Border Force (ABF) said Operation Barracuda had been launched by the Illicit Tobacco Taskforce (ITTF) to disrupt the supply of illicit tobacco and disposable vapes suspected of being illegally imported and distributed in the Territory.

After conducting investigations, ABF officers and ACT Policing raided a home in Narrabundah as well as two commercial premises at Holt and Belconnen on Wednesday (29 May).

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Officers allegedly seized 285,000 cigarette sticks, almost 2000 vapes, about 100 kg of loose leaf tobacco, 100 nicotine pouches, more than $14,000 cash and other items suspected of being proceeds of crime.

A 44-year-old man was arrested at the business in Holt, charged with one count of hindering a Commonwealth public official then granted bail to appear at the ACT Magistrates Court on 27 June.

“Investigations are continuing,” an ABF spokesperson said.

“The potential excise value from the number of illegal cigarette sticks and loose leaf tobacco seized equates to about $553,632.”

ABF ITTF Superintendent Sasha Barclay alleged the operation disrupted a major supplier in the ACT illicit tobacco market.

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“ABF officers across the country are stopping millions of sticks of tobacco at the border every single day,” Superintendent Barclay said.

“In stopping these shipments at the border, we must also dismantle the business models which are allowing this ‘under the counter’ practice to flourish.

“The illicit tobacco market will continue whilst there is a demand for it – and it’s the criminal syndicates who are exploiting this market to further fund their illicit activities.”

You can report suspicious border-related activity through Border Watch by clicking here.

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Miles Turner5:24 pm 31 May 24

These shops give people their product they’re addicted to at an affordable cost. I’d rather live in a Canberra where people have the nicotine they need. Addicts who are financially cut off from their drug tend to be violent and unreasonable anxious people. Whilst you may find nicotine awful, walking through a city with people who haven’t had their nicotine will be more dangerous for the general public. Operation barracuda is short sighted about what it is actually achieving for Australian’s.

@Miles Turner
Nice try, but there’s the matter of the excise – which people who actually buy legal tobacco pay.

The sale of illegal tobacco means taxpayers are subsidising the addiction of some smokers, while others have to pay the full price. Smoking is still a legal pursuit and the purchase of the products associated with that pursuit should also be legal.

If people cannot afford to smoke legally then they should access the many community services provided to assist them to quit.

Want to use a vape to help quit smoking your breaking the law. Want to do some ice, no worries. Canberra is a joke.

Ah…..No. If you want to use a vape to help quit smoking, you can still do so by getting a GP to write you a prescription and purchasing a legit vape from the chemist. This is about unapproved, unregulated vapes that contain all kinds of chemicals that aren’t passed as safe by the authorities.

“We sell things that we know for a fact cause several cancers, lung disease, heart disease, and damage your entire body, but we think vapes might be bad for you so they have to be controlled!”

Kali is chugging that kool aid at an astounding rate.

Heywood Smith12:14 pm 31 May 24

I wonder if the commercial business in Belconnon is a well-known barber shop that openly provides ‘vape menus’ and sells them to school aged customers (they walk in wearing their school uniforms). Needless to say, i no longer get my hair cut there anymore!

Kind of amusing that the ACT has decriminalised ice and heroin possession, but are chasing illegal tobacco because the correct taxes haven’t been paid on it.

devils_advocate1:30 pm 31 May 24

Why is that amusing exactly? Isn’t that how they sent up Alfonse Capone for bootlegging?

Well, it’s amusing watching the hypocrisy of “Illegal drugs made by cartels that cause untold human suffering are fine” and “We have siezed this dangerously untaxed tobacco. Go buy the legal and heavily taxed tobacco at woolies”. The absurdity of it is both funny and tiresome.

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