A DELIVERY driver could spend the next 10 years in jail after allegedly helping a Chinese crime syndicate import 1.2 tonnes of illegal tobacco into Sydney.
The Australian Border Force started investigating the syndicate in January after consignments filled with illicit cigarettes from China were detected at the Sydney International Mail Gateway.
Working closely with Australia Post, investigators identified a contracted delivery driver who allegedly facilitated the importation and collected the consignments.
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ABF Investigations Commander Graeme Grosse said 350,000 illicit cigarettes and 1.2 tonnes of tobacco was seized during the operation.
“These cigarettes and tobacco are worth more than $1.5 million in evaded duty, however, we expect that figure to increase as the investigation continues,” Mr Grosse said.
The 35-year-old delivery driver has since been fired and will appear in Bankstown Local Court next month, charged with illicit tobacco offences under the Customs Act.
The maximum penalty for tobacco smuggling is ten years imprisonment, while penalties of up to five times the amount of duty evaded can also be imposed by the courts.
The illicit tobacco market in Australia is worth about $600 million a year in evaded revenue, the ABF says.