A 55-year-old Perth man has been sentenced to eight months in prison after smuggling close to 100,000 cigarettes from China to Fremantle inside a shipment of sofas.
Australian Boarder Force intercepted the shipment, which contained 149 sofas inside cardboard boxes, in January 2018.
After inspecting the shipment, ABF officers noticed a number of the boxes were not the same. An x-ray one of the boxes revealed a number of cigarette cartons concealed inside the furniture.
A total of 449 cigarette cartons worth approximately $80,000 were seized.
ABF Investigators executed search warrants on the man’s Queens Park home and Victoria Park cafe, where he was found to be selling the cigarettes without a tobacco licence.
He was charged with one count of importing tobacco products with intent to defraud revenue and found guilty in the Perth Magistrates Court in October 2020, before being sentenced to eight months in prison last week.
Regional Commander Operations West James Copeman said the ABF was committed to targeting cigarette and tobacco smugglers at all levels.
“Whether it’s large scale criminal syndicates, individual profiteers such as this man or smokers stockpiling personal supplies, our officers have the training and technology to detect their illicit imports,” Commander Copeman said.
“Black market tobacco is a serious issue for Australia, and has far broader consequences than people buying cheap smokes under the counter,” Commander Copeman said.
Assistant Minister for Customs, Community Safety and Multicultural Affairs Jason Wood said anyone involved in black market tobacco were putting money into the hands of organised crime.
“On top of that they are depriving the Australian community of vital funding for services, and penalising retailers who abide by the law,” Mr Wood said.
Last financial year the ABF seized more than 177 tones of lose-leaf tobacco and 422 million cigarettes — with the amount of duty evaded tolling a whopping $611 million.