POLICE have seized illegally imported cigarettes with a street value of $360,000 from a speeding driver on the Hume Highway.
Wangaratta officers noticed a van travelling south at 120km/h on the highway about 8pm on Monday.
They stopped the vehicle, searched it and located 360,000 cigarettes in about 20 cardboard boxes.
The cigarettes had been illegally imported and the 35-year-old driver has been charged with possessing the proceeds of crime.
Detective Senior Constable Jason Brown said the Australian citizen, who is living in Melbourne, will face court in Wangaratta on June 27.
“It’s an illegal trade we’ve been able to identify so it’s a good result,” he said.
“The packets had foreign writing on them; they’re not a type of cigarette sold in Australia.
“This is not an isolated incident.”
A Korean man was arrested last July after being caught with 70 cartons of cigarettes bound for the North East.
Officers had stopped his speeding car in Wangaratta and located the items and $12,000 cash.
The 29-year-old had overstayed a tourist visa and had been illegally importing the cigarettes and selling them from his car.
Officers also found 1000 cartons of cigarettes worth $200,000 in Benalla in 2013.
Senior Constable Brown said the driver caught on Monday had been driving in a friend’s car.
“He was the sole occupant,” he said.
“The cigarettes were all in the back of the van stacked in20 large heavy duty cardboard moving boxes.”
Officers also caught a man driving at 165km/h on the freeway in an unrelated incident earlier in the day.
The 26-year-old North St Marys man told Wangaratta officers he was driving to Sydney to visit his sick mother.
“There are no second chances at that speed,” Leading Senior Constable Steve Williams said.
“He was forcing his way through traffic.”
The man was fined and had his licence suspended for 12 months.
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