Illegal tobacco haul lands men in court
TRAFFICKING illegal tobacco has cost two Queensland men $3000 in fines after they were stopped in their tracks by Coffs Harbour police.
A total of 275.9kg of hand-rolling tobacco - commonly referred to as "chop-chop" - was discovered stashed inside a van during a search by Coffs Clarence police in November, 2014.
The co-offenders - Abedulwahab Naaman, 33, of Logan Central and Mohamed Naaman, 19, of Slacks Creek - appeared before the Coffs Harbour Local Court on Friday, pleading not guilty to their individual charges.
The court heard that at 12.40am on November 8, police identified a Renault Master transporter van parked outside the North Boambee Valley BP service station.
Police conducted a registration check on the vehicle before the defendants approached the officers, saying their vehicle had broken down.
Police prosecutor Sergeant David Sams told the court the defendants appeared to be making an attempt to distract attention away from the vehicle.
Police later searched the vehicle where 275.9kg of cut tobacco stashed in 13 plastic bags was discovered.
The tobacco was not labelled and had a street value of between $49,662 to $60,698, and a retail value of $275,900.
Senior police sources said the haul was likely destined for the illicit tobacco black market within ethnic communities in Sydney.
The men were arrested and charged with possession of tobacco, moving tobacco without permission, and not having a tobacco bale attached.
Magistrate Robert Walker fined Abedulwahab Naaman and Mohamed Naaman $3000 each and ordered convictions to be recorded.