$15m of vapes seized in record-breaking bust in West Melbourne

$15m of vapes seized in record-breaking bust in West Melbourne
Brendan Rees

Police have undertaken the biggest seizure of vapes at a West Melbourne warehouse, with more than $15 million of the illicit product removed from the market.

Almost 500,000 vapes were seized after a search warrant was executed at a Lennon St property on April 17.

Six men aged 37, 31, 33 and 24 were arrested and interviewed. They have been all released pending further enquiries.

Police allege the warehouse was possibly being used by an organised crime syndicate for the trafficking of illicit tobacco products.

Victoria Police has been working closely with the Therapeutic Goods Administration, who will now take over the investigation.

Victoria Police Assistant Commissioner Martin O’Brien of Crime Command said the illicit tobacco market had become a “significant driver of organised crime groups” during the past 12 months.

“Taskforce Lunar was established back in October last year and has worked closely with a range of specialist units including the VIPER Taskforce to target these organised crime groups,” he said.

 

We have seen almost 100 people arrested in connection to illicit tobacco as well as multiple large-scale seizures of illegally imported product.

 

Federal Minister for Health Mark Butler said the seizure demonstrated how closely state and territory partners were working with the TGA to disrupt illegal vapes. 

“Since the Albanese Government banned the importation of vapes over a million vapes have been seized by the Australian Border Force and the TGA combined, in addition to the outcome of this operation,” he said.

“Our coordinated efforts are working to control a product that has hooked a whole new generation on nicotine.”

Anyone with information is urged to contact Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000. •

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