The Australian Border Force Tobacco Strike Team will receive a boost of $7.7 million in additional funding over the next two years to continue to combat criminal syndicates attempting to smuggle illicit tobacco into Australia.
The Minister for Immigration and Border Protection Peter Dutton said the additional funding provided within the 2016 Budget will significantly increase the ability of the Tobacco Strike Team to disrupt the supply of illicit tobacco.
“The Australian Government is determined to reduce the availability of illicit tobacco and this funding will allow the Tobacco Strike Team to continue to expose those organised criminal syndicates looking to smuggle illicit tobacco across the border and into the black market,” Mr Dutton said.
“In the first six months of the Strike Team’s activity, it has already exposed a number of tobacco smuggling operations and seized more than 25 tonnes of smuggled tobacco and 50 million smuggled cigarettes.
“By seizing this illicit product, the Tobacco Strike Team has stopped the evasion of more than $45 million in duties and taxes since October 2015.”
This additional funding will be used to establish two new specialist investigation teams comprising 14 personnel. It will also allow the ABF to build stronger ties with key international law enforcement partners involved in combatting tobacco smuggling at various points along the supply chain.
It will also enable the Tobacco Strike Team to work even more closely with the Australian Federal Police-led multi-agency Criminal Asset Confiscation Taskforce (CACT) to remove profits derived from serious and organised criminal activity.
This level of cooperation comes after a recent joint operation conducted in Melbourne with the Tobacco Strike Team seizing more than 15 million cigarettes and 20 tonnes of tobacco, and the CACT restraining more than $6 million in assets, suspected to be the proceeds of crime.