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Tuesday, January 26, 2021

Man charged over $9 million illegal tobacco crop near Singleton

A Sydney man will face court next month after a police taskforce uncovered an alleged illegal tobacco crop, near Singleton, worth about $9 million.

The investigation, which spanned several months, resulted in a multi-agency operation – consisting of Hunter Valley Police District, Rural Crime Prevention Team, the Australian Taxation Office and Australian Border Force – locating the 2.8-hectare yield at Bulga on Wednesday 13 January.

The male was arrested at the scene and taken to Singleton Police Station.

After being charged with the manufacture of tobacco, he was granted conditional bail.

He is now scheduled to appear at Singleton Local Court on 11 February.

“Tobacco crops are often found in regional areas and usually involve the illegal sourcing of water and power, which undermines legitimate farmers and the government’s sustainability measures,” a police spokesperson said.

“They also have no regard for local biosecurity – and can have an adverse effect on water tablelands and neighbouring properties.

“If you suspect that illicit tobacco is being grown, you are able to report it anonymously.

“Contact the illicit tobacco taskforce through the Australia Taxation Office on 1800 060 062 or by completing a tip-off form through the ATO website.”