Australia seizes record 71 tons of smuggled tobacco

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Sydney (dpa) – A record 71 tons of illicit tobacco was caught being smuggled into Australia, the government announced Friday.

The loose leaf tobacco brought in on ships from Indonesia would have been worth about 40 million Australian dollars (29 million US dollars) if sold on the black market, Immigration Minister Peter Dutton said in a statement.

The haul would have generated over 27 million Australian dollars in tax revenue if it had been imported through legal channels, Dutton said.

“There are clear links to organised crime and we know that groups smuggling illicit tobacco into Australia are also involved in other illegal activities such as narcotics,” Dutton said.

The Sydney seizure followed a Thursday announcement of the intercept in Melbourne of 5.9 million illegal packaged cigarettes from United Arab Emirates.

In a separate operation police charged 12 people over a multi-million-dollar cigarette smuggling operation in Sydney that police allege included bribing waterfront officials.

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