Six million smuggled cigarettes seized in Australia

Melbourne, Oct 15 (IANS) Nearly six million cigarettes illegally smuggled into Australia’s Melbourne city by a criminal syndicate have been seized, police said.

The Australian Border Force (ABF) officers raided three storage facilities and an assortment of homes in Melbourne’s western suburbs, and discovered almost 10 tonnes of illicit tobacco products, reported Xinhua.

The raids were conducted after a four-month investigation by the ABF.

The smuggling ring, which is believed to have imported the smoking products from the United Arab Emirates in June, stood to avoid $2 million in tax payments if they had gone undetected.

Australia has one of the highest taxes in the world on cigarettes and all other smoke products at 13.7 percent initiated by the government as a mode of discouraging smoking.

Since 2012, Australia has implemented controversial plain-packaging measures which have replaced the traditional, coloured design of cigarette packaging with unappealing images showing the health implications of long-term smoking.

Those convicted of tobacco smuggling in Australia face a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison.

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