Illegal Tobacco Worth $500,000 Seized By Canberra Border Force

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    On May 31, 2024, border force officials in Canberra conducted a significant raid under Operation Barracuda, seizing illegal tobacco and e-cigarettes valued at over 500,000 AUD. This operation, part of the Illicit Tobacco Taskforce’s efforts, underscores the ongoing battle against the illegal tobacco market within the Australian Capital Territory (ACT).

    Operation Barracuda Seizes Over 500,000 AUD in Canberra Raid

    Operation Barracuda is a testament to the relentless efforts of the Illicit Tobacco Taskforce to combat the sale and distribution of illegal tobacco products. The early morning raids targeted two commercial premises in Holt and Belconnen, along with a residence in Narrabundah, resulting in the confiscation of substantial quantities of illegal goods.

    Details of the Raid

    Border force officials seized:

    • Over 285,000 cigarettes
    • Nearly 2,000 disposable e-cigarettes
    • Approximately 100 kilograms of loose leaf tobacco
    • 100 nicotine pouches
    • Over 14,000 AUD in cash and other suspected proceeds of crime

    The total value of these seized items exceeds 500,000 AUD, with the potential excise value of the illegal cigarettes and tobacco estimated at around 553,632 AUD.

    Arrest and Charges

    A significant arrest was made during the operation. A 44 year old man was detained at a tobacco store in Holt and charged with obstructing a Commonwealth official. This charge, under Section 149.1(1) of the Criminal Code Act, highlights the serious nature of the offenses. The individual was granted bail and is scheduled to appear in the ACT Magistrates Court on June 27, with further charges under investigation.

    Origin of Illegal Products

    The seized products appear to have been produced in China, indicating a broader international dimension to the illegal tobacco trade.

    Role of the Illicit Tobacco Taskforce

    The Illicit Tobacco Taskforce was established to address the growing problem of illegal tobacco within the ACT. By targeting major suppliers and dismantling their business models, the task force aims to disrupt the market for illegal tobacco products. Superintendent Sasha Barclay of the Border Force emphasized the significance of these operations in protecting public health and maintaining legal trade standards.

    Health and Economic Impacts

    Illegal tobacco and e-cigarettes pose serious health risks to consumers. These unregulated products often contain harmful substances that can exacerbate health issues. Additionally, the illegal trade undermines legitimate businesses and results in significant revenue losses for the government due to unpaid taxes and excises.

    World No Tobacco Day and Ongoing Efforts

    The timing of this operation, coinciding with World No Tobacco Day, highlights the global commitment to reducing tobacco use and combating illicit trade. The collaboration between border force officials, law enforcement, and health agencies is crucial in addressing the multifaceted challenges posed by illegal tobacco products.


    What was seized during Operation Barracuda?

    Over 285,000 cigarettes, nearly 2,000 disposable e-cigarettes, approximately 100 kilograms of loose leaf tobacco, 100 nicotine pouches, and over 14,000 AUD in cash were seized.

    Who was arrested during the raid?

    A 44 year old man was arrested at a tobacco store in Holt and charged with obstructing a Commonwealth official.

    What is the estimated value of the seized items?

    The total value of the seized items exceeds 500,000 AUD, with the potential excise value estimated at around 553,632 AUD.

    Where were the illegal products produced?

    The illegal products appear to have been produced in China.