“Major Blow to Illicit Tobacco Network: $10 million seized in nationwide raids”

Australia, Police

In a massive crackdown on the illicit tobacco trade, a joint operation between WA Police, Victoria Police, Australian Border Force (ABF), and the WA Department of Health has dismantled a $10 million illicit tobacco network operating in Western Australia.

Seven men and two women, alleged to have connections with a Middle Eastern crime group, have been charged in relation to the network.

The operation, codenamed Taskforce Cosgrove, was established in April 2024 by the Serious and Organised Crime Division of the WA Police Force.

The task force was formed in partnership with Victoria Police and the Australian Border Force to investigate the illicit tobacco network and a series of arson offences in the Perth metropolitan area, believed to be linked to the crime group.

Between Sunday 16 June and Tuesday 18 June 2024, a total of 50 search warrants were executed by police at various locations, including private residences, storage units, retail outlets, tobacco and convenience stores, and gift shops in Regional WA and the Perth metropolitan area.

The raids resulted in the seizure of 5.

Nine suspects, including the alleged head of the group, a 29-year-old male, were taken into custody and charged with receiving, possessing, concealing, or dealing with money or property that were proceeds of an offence.

The ABF, which deployed a team of investigators, digital forensic officers, members of the Illicit Tobacco Taskforce, and currency-trained detection dogs during the raids, has provided all tobacco products for further investigation and consideration of additional charges under federal taxation laws.