Police searched a number of properties in the Shepparton area yesterday as part of a Victoria Police investigation into an organised crime syndicate.
Eight warrants were executed at residential and rural addresses in Shepparton and Mooroopna on Wednesday, 23 September.
Police from the Echo Taskforce, Eastern Region Crime Team and Shepparton local area were joined by Australian Border Force and the Australian Federal Police.
A significant quantity of tobacco seedlings, with an estimated worth of around $20M at maturity, were located and destroyed with the authorization of the Australian Taxation Office.
Police also seized tobacco machinery, a quantity of illicit tobacco, cash, stolen vehicle registration plates and ammunition.
A 36-year-old man, a 38-year-old man, a 34-year-old man and a 41-year-old man, all from Shepparton, are expected to be charged on summons with a range of offences including possess proceeds of crime and firearms offences, as well as a range of Commonwealth offences.
The investigation remains ongoing.
The purchase of illicit tobacco in Australia puts over $600M each year into the hands of criminals and undermines the efforts of businesses trying to turn a legitimate profit.
This activity is significant blow to the illicit tobacco trade in Australia.
Purchasing illicit tobacco enables organised crime syndicates to fund other criminal activity, including drug trafficking, which can seriously degrade the health and safety of the Australian community.
Australians should be aware that every purchase is a decision point – it is that it is never okay to purchase illicit and illegal tobacco.
Anyone with further information is urged to contact Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000 or submit a confidential crime report to www.crimestoppersvic.com.au