Polaris Joint Waterfront Taskforce break illegal tobacco syndicate, thirteen charged


Polaris Joint Waterfront Taskforce investigations into importation of large amounts of illicit cigarettes and tobacco resulted in charging thirteen people in this connection. Illegal activities were carried out using corrupt industry officials on the Sydney waterfront and in the maritime supply chain.

Operation Minium started in August 2014 by   Taskforce. The team included Australian Federal Police, NSW Police Force, Australian Border Force, and the Australian Crime Commission.

Modus operandi the syndicate was to pay employees attached to customs brokerage companies and freight forwarding firms in the tens of thousands of dollars. This helped them to create false declarations and shipping documents to enable the importation of illicit cigarettes and tobacco. However  Polaris Joint Waterfront Taskforce has not disclosed names of any Sydney custom broker in this connection.

Using this channel the syndicate brought in nine million cigarettes from the United Arab Emirates to Port Botany and were seized by Polaris officers. This consignment is estimated to have a black market value of approximately $5.4 million. This illegal importation have avoided tobacco excise and Customs duties of about $4.77 million.

In this investigation Polaris officers worked closely with Dubai Customs officials from the United Arab Emirates. Police point out that the syndicate avoided $9.1 million in Customs duties in respect of 10 million cigarettes and 5.6 tonnes of tobacco illegally brought into the country. The investigation team have also seized $700,000.

Illegal cigarettes and tobacco brought in were collected by a local syndicate for distribution throughout Sydney. They were also into drug trade, approximately 270 grams of cocaine was seized during the investigation with a street value of around $184,000.

Officers attached to Polaris, the Australian Federal Police, NSW Police Force and Australian Border Force arrested twelve men and one woman from Sydney’s south and south-west. They also seized $400,000 cash, further cigarettes and documents.

According to Nick Bingham Polaris Waterfront Task Force Commander this operation has shut down a major syndicate involved in importing illicit cigarettes and tobacco goods into the country and distributing those goods.