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Cigarette smuggler gaoled

Cigarette smuggler gaoled

Minister for Justice and Customs, Senator Chris Ellison, said today that this week’s gaoling of a cigarette smuggler in Sydney sent a strong message to others who may be contemplating such illegal activity.

Senator Ellison was commenting following a sentence passed in the District Court in Sydney on Thursday where a Sydney importer was given an 18-month prison sentence, with a non-parole period of nine months, for attempting to evade duty of $1,238,700 on six million undeclared cigarettes.

He was also sentenced to three months imprisonment, to be served concurrently, for attempting to import a quantity of undeclared rice spirit.

As well as the gaol term, the importer was ordered to pay $1,249,000 in reparation, which includes the amount of duty evaded on the cigarettes together with a further sum of over $10,000 for the duty evaded on the rice spirit.

"The heavy penalty imposed by the court is a clear indication of just how seriously the authorities deal with those who are caught trying to smuggle cigarettes into Australia," Senator Ellison said.

The court heard that the importer concealed the cigarettes and the rice spirit inside a sea cargo container of household articles which arrived in Sydney from South Korea in August last year.

The smuggled goods were discovered when Customs officers carried out an examination of the container. Customs investigators subsequently conducted inquiries that resulted in the importer being charged with offences against the Commonwealth Criminal Code Act 1995.

The cigarettes are now forfeited to the Commonwealth and will be destroyed.

"Once again this case is proof that Customs is providing an efficient border service to ensure that illicit activity is uncovered wherever and in whatever way it occurs," Senator Ellison said.

So far in 2002, a total of 32 million cigarettes and 11,293 kg of tobacco have been seized by Customs in 17 separate detections.

26 July 2002

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