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'Tobacco baron trade ring' smashed as raids find $25million in home-grown tobacco, cigarettes, vapes

A massive tobacco baron trade ring worth millions has allegedly been smashed after police and Australian Tax Office raided a dozen locations in Queensland.

Five people were arrested in the swoop on addresses in South Brisbane and Logan which netted a huge haul of 4.5 tonnes of tobacco, $900,000 in cash, 114,732 packets of cigarettes and 150,000 nicotine vapes.

Police believe the seized tobacco alone is worth $24million, and the excise duty would have been more than $10million.

Detectives joined forces with officers from the ATO and Queensland Health for the 12 raids in Beenleigh, Springwood, Slacks Creek, Rochedale South, Logan Central, Marsden, Waterford and Heritage Park on Tuesday. 

A massive tobacco baron trade ring worth millions has allegedly been smashed after police and Australian Tax Office raided a dozen locations in Queensland (pictured)

The ATO set up Operation Romeo Serge to tackle home-grown tobacco farmers as part of a wider investigation into organised crime. 

It's been illegal to grow tobacco in Australia for more than a decade and anyone convicted faces up to 10 years in jail.

ATO Assistant Commissioner Ian Read stressed the tobacco operations are not run by small producers or farmers.

'They are run by organised criminal syndicates who use the proceeds to fund their criminal behaviour well beyond the sale of illegal tobacco,' Mr Read said.

'Retailers choosing to become involved in the sale of illegal tobacco gain an unfair price advantage over small business.

'Removing illicit tobacco from crop to shop creates a level playing field and also helps to stop organised crime syndicates from funding other activities.'

A detectives from the Logan District Criminal Investigation Branch carries out a search warrant

Five people were arrested in the swoop on addresses in South Brisbane and Logan which netted a huge haul (pictured) of 4.5 tonnes of tobacco, $900,000 in cash, 114,732 packets of cigarettes and 150,000 nicotine vapes

A large sum of cash was seized during the raid as part of Operation Romeo Serge

He added: 'These results will have a major impact on these criminals and should serve as a warning to the criminal groups involved in this kind of activity.'

A 54-year-old Springwood man has been charged with possessing dangerous drugs, possession of more than 100kg of tobacco and dealing with money suspected of being proceeds.

A 55-year-old Rochedale South man has been charged with possession of more than 100kg of tobacco, importation of tobacco with intent to defraud and dealing with money suspected of being proceeds.

They are both scheduled to appear in Beenleigh Magistrates Court on July 15.

A 36-year-old Park Ridge South man has been charged with supplying tobacco in non-compliant packaging and possession of a regulated poison.

A 32-year-old North Lakes man has been charged with supplying tobacco in non-compliant packaging and possession of a regulated poison.

Detectives joined forces with officers from the ATO and Queensland Health for the 12 raids in Beenleigh, Springwood, Slacks Creek, Rochedale South, Logan Central, Marsden, Waterford and Heritage Park on Tuesday 

Pictured: Detectives uncover a large box of allegedly illegal tobacco during the raid

Police believe the seized tobacco alone is worth $24million, and the excise duty would have been more than $10million

They are both scheduled to appear in Beenleigh Magistrates Court on July 19.

A 32-year-old Heritage Park man has been charged with possession of a regulated poison and possession of more than 100kg of tobacco. He is scheduled to appear at the Beenleigh Magistrates Court on July 28.

More arrests are expected to follow, say police. 

The swoop followed two raids on May 13 at a Kuraby business and Logan Reserve residential address where police allegedly found approximately 1.5 tonnes of loose-leaf tobacco, 110,000 packets of imported cigarettes, and 100,000 vapes containing nicotine. 

A 57-year-old Kuraby man was arrested at the Kuraby address and was charged with possession of more than 500kg of tobacco, possession of more than 100kg of tobacco, importation of tobacco with intent to defraud and unlawful possession of a weapon. He is scheduled to appear at the Beenleigh Magistrates Court on June 29.

The ATO set up Operation Romeo Serge to tackle home-grown tobacco farmers as part of a wider investigation into organised crime

It's been illegal to grow tobacco in Australia for more than a decade and anyone convicted faces up to 10 years in jail

'Retailers choosing to become involved in the sale of illegal tobacco gain an unfair price advantage over small business,' ATO Assistant Commissioner Ian Read stressed

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