Body concealment cigarette smuggler wears big fine

An attempt by a West Australian woman to avoid $1,500 in cigarette Duty has cost her $8,000 after she was convicted in the Perth Magistrates Court yesterday (Thursday 30 July) of smuggling more than seven cartons of cigarettes concealed under her clothing.

Australian Border Force (ABF) officers selected the 56 year-old for a full baggage examination when she arrived back in Perth from Bali in July 2019.

When advised she would be frisk searched the woman removed the seven cartons and three individual packets hidden in, and under, her clothing.

A further 17 packets were located in her baggage, as well as an open packet in her handbag.

In total ABF officers found 1,871 cigarettes, which at the time would have attracted Duty payable of $1,530.

On her Incoming Passenger Card (IPC) the woman declared she did not have more than the Duty free allowance of 25 cigarettes.

ABF officers then found evidence on the woman’s phone that she was selling cigarettes to her friends and other contacts.

She was subsequently charged with three offences, for which she received the following penalties:

•$2000 – cigarette smuggling under s233(1)(a) of the Customs Act 1901

•$3500 – evasion of duty under s234(1)(a) of the Customs Act 1901

•$1000 – making false statement under s234(1)(d)(i) of the Customs Act 1901, as well as

•$1500 – court costs.

An application by her lawyer for a spent conviction was refused by the Magistrate.

ABF Regional Commander for WA, James Copeman, said the ABF was constantly on the lookout for people attempting to bring in more than their duty free allowance of cigarettes and tobacco.

“This was an audacious attempt to smuggle cigarettes into Australia to avoid paying Duty,” Commander Copeman said.

“The ABF relies on passengers to be truthful in their declarations, but if they don’t our officers have the commitment and the means to detect even small amounts of smuggled cigarettes and tobacco.”

Last financial year (2019/20) the ABF seized more than 175 tonnes of loose leaf tobacco and 421 million cigarettes, with the amount of duty evaded totalling some $608 million.

Source: Australian Border Force