Australian Border Force Deputy Commissioner Michael Outram said the “sheer size of the profits” available in the illegal tobacco trade made it attractive to organised crime.
“Elicit tobacco is a real priority for the Australian Border Force simply because of the involvement of serious and organised crime groups and transnational crime groups,” he told reporters in Sydney.
“They’ll trade in tobacco, they’ll trade in drugs, they’ll trade in human beings.”
He said the same tactics could be used to smuggle guns and drugs.
“If they can turn a quick buck with relatively low risk then they’ll do it, whether that’s drugs, whether that’s tobacco or in some cases whether that’s people smuggling.”
Police also seized $400,000 in cash during the raids on Tuesday.
About $2 million worth of assets including bank accounts and properties had been frozen.
It’s alleged the syndicate imported more than 10 million cigarettes, including one shipment of nine million “Manchester” branded cigarettes, which was seized after arriving at Sydney’s Port Botany last week, and had a black market value of about $5.4 million.
Probably completely coincidental to Australia’s plain packaging policy and excessive excise increases in recent years.