Three people have been arrested following a police sting targeting illegal tobacco trade on the Sunshine Coast.
Officers from the Australian Taxation Office, Queensland Police Service and Queensland Department of Health have this week executed search warrants at businesses suspected of supplying illicit tobacco.
Three retail tobacconists in Maroochydore, Dicky Beach and Currimundi were raided, as well as a storage facility in Maroochydore.
More than 270,000 illicit cigarettes, 33 kilograms of loose leaf tobacco, and 9,000 illegal vape products were allegedly seized.
A 54-year-old Caboolture man and a 36-year-old Caboolture woman have since been charged with two counts of possession of tobacco 5kgs or above, four counts of selling or supplying tobacco products in non-compliant retail packaging and two counts of receiving tainted property.
A 49-year-old Manly West woman has also been charged with one count each of selling or supplying tobacco products in non-compliant retail packaging and receiving tainted property.
Acting deputy commissioner for the ATO Jade Hawkins has welcomed the seizures, condemning those who take part in the illicit tobacco trade.
“Retailers choosing to become involved in the sale of illegal tobacco gain an unfair price advantage over honest businesses who are doing the right thing,” Ms Hawkins says.
“…the ATO is committed to disrupting those who produce and supply illicit tobacco for sale in the shadow economy in Australia.”
Retailers involved in the illicit tobacco trade can face serious penalties, such as a civil penalty of up to $22,200, or a criminal conviction with a prison sentence of up to 5 years.