Chinese nationals caught smuggling tobacco

Christine McGinn

Six Chinese nationals have been charged for their alleged involvement in a "highly organised" tobacco smuggling syndicate through Melbourne Airport in the past year.

In a statement on Saturday Australian Border Force says 94 people, between June last year and May 2018, were detected arriving at Melbourne Airport with more than 2.7 million illicit cigarettes and have since been removed from Australia.

Three Chinese nationals were arrested in January, another two male Chinese nationals were arrested in May and a female Chinese national, 31, was charged in June for her alleged involvement.

Four of the accused appeared before the Melbourne Magistrates Court in May, pleaded guilty and were sentenced to time already served - between 84 and 125 days - and have been removed from Australia.

ABF investigators targeted passengers on a number of flights from southeast Asian ports arriving in Victoria's capital city.