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$16m crop seized

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April 11, 2018

The Australian Taxation Office has seized 17.6 tonnes of allegedly illegal tobacco and 44kg of seedlings from a farm in Koonoomoo.

The Australian Taxation Office has seized 17.6 tonnes of allegedly illegal tobacco and 44kg of seedlings from a farm in Koonoomoo.

The tobacco seized on Thursday has an estimated excise value of more than $16 million.

The warrant action is in addition to a number of operations since July 1, 2016, where officers led 23 operations seizing more than $170 million of illegal crops.

‘‘Engaging in the illegal tobacco trade not only supports organised criminal syndicates, it also robs the community by denying them of taxes that would be raised,’’ ATO assistant commissioner Peter Vujanic said.

‘‘The ATO takes the detection and prosecution of illegal tobacco growers very seriously to help protect the community.’’

Growing tobacco without an excise licence has been illegal in Australia for more than a decade.

There is no legal avenue for Australian-grown tobacco to be manufactured and sold.

‘‘The ATO is concerned that farmers in these areas may be targeted by organised criminal organisations or be at risk of unintentionally becoming involved,’’ Mr Vujanic said.

‘‘If you are approached about growing tobacco or think you may be unwittingly involved in growing illegal groups, you should let the ATO know.’’

To report a concern, phone 1800 060 062 or visit ato.gov.au/reportaconcern.

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