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60 Tons of Illegal Tobacco & Millions of Counterfeit Cigarettes Seized

NSW, Australia (News4us.com) September 01, 2011

60 Tons of Illegal Tobacco & Millions of Counterfeit Cigarettes Seized

60 Tons of Illegal Tobacco & Millions of Counterfeit Cigarettes Seized

A joint law enforcement operation has charged two men with alleged importation and bribery offences following the seizure of more than 60 tonnes of illegal tobacco.

The investigation was conducted by Operation Polaris; a joint waterfront operation comprising the NSW Police Force, Australian Federal Police, Australian Customs and Border Protection Service, Australian Crime Commission and the NSW Crime Commission.

Operation Polaris is a whole-of-government response targeting serious and organised criminal activity at New South Wales sea cargo terminals.

This morning Polaris officers executed simultaneous warrants in south-west Sydney and arrested two Belmore men aged 30 and 27. Police allege both men are main figures in the alleged syndicate.

It is alleged the men attempted to bribe a Commonwealth official for the purposes of importing more than 60 tonnes of illegal tobacco and almost 25 million counterfeit cigarettes. The Commonwealth official reported the matter.

The illegal imports had the potential to defraud the nation of more than $35million in tax revenue.

Operation Polaris Commander, Detective Superintendent Peter McErlain said the investigation highlighted the success of a multi-agency approach to disrupt criminality on the waterfront.

“As a result of the professionalism and good work of the Commonwealth Official in reporting the matter to authorities, police were able to launch an investigation and bring these people to justice.

“Operation Polaris will continue to target organised crime on the waterfront, including illicit drug importation, money laundering, proceeds of crime, container theft and corruption,” Det Supt McErlain said.

Officers under Operation Polaris today executed search warrants at Belmore, Greenacre Roselands and Lakemba; seizing nearly $450,000.

The two arrested men are in the process of being charged with:

  • Bribery of a Commonwealth public official, contrary to section 141.1 of the Criminal Code 1995. The maximum penalty for this offence is 10 years imprisonment and/or a $1.1million fine.
  • Dealing in proceeds of crime, money or property worth $1,000,000 or more, contrary to section 400.3 of the Criminal Code 1995. The maximum penalty for this offence is 25 years imprisonment and/or a $165,000 fine.
  • Obtain a financial advantage by deception, contrary to section 134.2 of the Criminal Code 1995. The maximum penalty for this offence is 10 years imprisonment.

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