Four women – aged 43 to 69 – have been charged over their alleged involvement in a criminal network in the state’s south, where NSW Police have seized more than $300,000 worth of unlawful tobacco products and nicotine e-cigarettes (vapes).
In November 2022, detectives from the Murrumbidgee Police District Criminal Investigation Team established Strike Force Snedden to investigate the alleged criminal network operating in Griffith and surrounding areas.
Following extensive inquiries, strike force officers – assisted by Murray River Police District and the South East Region Enforcement Squad (RES) – executed simultaneous search warrants at properties in Narrandera, Yanco, Finley and Shepparton (Victoria), last Wednesday.
During the searches, police seized in excess of 500 cartons of allegedly illegally imported cigarettes with an estimated potential retail value of more than $250,000, $50,000 of nicotine e-cigarettes, nicotine oil and more than $20,000 in cash.
Four women were arrested during the operation:
A 49-year-old woman was arrested in Griffith and charged with eight offences. She has been granted conditional bail to reappear in court on March 1st.
A 64-year-old woman was arrested in Finley and charged with one count of participate criminal group contribute criminal activity, and two counts each of convey/possess tobacco products reckless re defraud revenue, and supply specified substance otherwise than by wholesale. She was granted conditional bail to appear before Finley Local Court on March 1st.
A 69-year-old woman was arrested in Narrandera and charged with participate criminal group contribute criminal activity, two counts of convey/possess tobacco products reckless re defraud revenue, and two counts of possess tobacco 5 kilograms or above. She was granted conditional bail to appear before Leeton Local Court on April 11th.
A 43-year-old woman was arrested in Shepparton, Victoria, and charged with 12 offences. She is due to appear before Griffith Local Court on April 5th.
Murrumbidgee Police District Crime Manager, Detective Inspector Tim Clark, said police will not tolerate those who exploit the community by selling illegal products.
“This activity deprives legitimate businesses of income and instead, places the cash in the hands of criminal organisations,” he said.
“This operation has sent a firm message to those who attempt to profit from the vulnerability of others; we’re watching you and you will be held accountable.”