Up to four acres of suspected tobacco plants with a excise value of more than $1.5 million dollars have been seized from a Pentland Hills address.
The Australian Taxation Officer seized the plants following the execution of a warrant and a long-term ongoing investigation.
An inspection of the property at Pentland Hills, near Bacchus Marsh, identified approximately four acres of suspected illicit tobacco plants.
Victoria Police also seized a loaded firearm and ammunition on the day.
ATO Deputy Commissioner Michael Cranston said the ATO will continue to act decisively to deal with illegal tobacco growing in Australia.
“Illegally grown tobacco takes money outside Australia’s tax system and into the pockets of criminals,” Mr Cranston said.
“That loss of excise is a loss for the Australian community.”
Growing tobacco in Australia has been illegal since 2006. There have been no tobacco licences granted by the ATO since then.
Currently, there are no licensed commercial producers or dealers in Australia.
This warrant follows similar searches conducted in NSW and Victoria at the end of last year, in December and November respectively.
Mr Cranston said the ATO worked with Victoria Police to execute the warrants demonstrating the value of cross-agency collaboration in detecting and dealing with offenders.
“Those that break the law will be brought to account. The ATO collaborates with partner agencies to stamp out criminal activity – if you engage in it, you will be caught,” Mr Cranston said.
He said property owners must remain vigilant and consider what could be growing on nearby properties.
“The community can play a role in reducing the illegal tobacco trade by remaining aware of their surroundings. If something looks suspicious, contact the police.”
The story ATO seizes illegal tobacco worth up to $1.5 million first appeared on The Courier.