Vic tobacco syndicate cops jail terms

Kaitlyn Offer

A man's role in an illegal Melbourne tobacco syndicate has seen the 43-year-old's freedom go up in smoke.

Lebanon Kamarelddin was sentenced by the County Court to three years' jail on Thursday after a tobacco syndicate was unearthed in 2014.

It comes after two other members of the syndicate were jailed for three years in May.

The Australian Tax Office working with Victoria Police discovered tobacco being grown at properties close to Melbourne in February 2014.

The first crop was believed to be about 16 hectares in size and worth about $10 million.

As part of the probe, investigators viewed more than 1000 hours of security video footage, including surveillance which showed the men planting and harvesting the tobacco, drying it in kilns, and then taking it to a factory for cutting and distribution.

"These men were key players in the illicit tobacco trade in Victoria and the Court has sent a strong message to those who are involved in this illegal activity," ATO Assistant Commissioner Peter Vujanic said in a statement.

Since July 1, 2016, the ATO has conducted 33 seizures totalling 221 tonnes of illicit tobacco, worth about $192 million.