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Illegal Imports and Exports

Deputy Director: Mark de Crespigny

Top referring agencies

  • State and territory police 39%
  • Australian Federal Police 39%
  • Australian Border Force 12%
  • State and territory departments of corrections 5%
  • Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment 4%

Referrals: 379

Matters on hand: 558

Matters managed:

  • Serious drug and precursor importations
  • Tobacco importation
  • Firearms importation
  • Money laundering
  • Other importation and exportation offences


The Illegal Imports and Exports (IIE) practice group prosecutes crimes relating to the integrity of Australia’s borders, including drug and drug‑precursor importation, general and drug‑related money laundering, firearms importation, quarantine breaches, wildlife smuggling and other import and export contraventions including illicit tobacco, agriculture products and steroids.

The impacts of these offences on the Australian community and economy can be devastating. The CDPP prosecutes IIE matters most of which are indictable across all 10 offices. The practice is high‑volume and arrest‑driven. The IIE practice group prosecutes the largest number of trials of any CDPP practice group.

Trends in 2019–20 prosecutions

There has been an increase in the number of referrals from NSW police of drug importation matters. There has also been a marked increase in the overall complexity of matters being referred to IIE.

Law reform

During 2019–20, IIE continued to work collaboratively with the Department of Home Affairs and the Attorney‑General’s Department, providing input into legislative reform proposals. This work included:

  • the Criminal Code Amendment (Agricultural Protection) Bill 2019 (Cth), which introduced two new offences into the Criminal Code 2010 (Cth) relating to the use of a carriage service to incite trespass, property offences or other offences on agricultural land and
  • the Criminal Code Amendment (Firearms Trafficking) Bill 2017 (Cth), which will introduce an aggravated offence of trafficking in 50 or more firearms or parts and increased penalties for other offences.

Stakeholder engagement

A continuing key strategic theme for IIE over 2019–20 was building strong and effective partnerships with our partner agencies and stakeholders, fostering cooperation, collaboration and innovation across the criminal justice system. We work closely with partner agencies at all stages of the prosecution process. Our prosecutors maintain strong relationships with stakeholders which are of significant benefit in this area, especially as matters are often complex, time critical and fluid.

Our partner agencies include the Australian Federal Police (AFP), Australian Border Force (ABF) under the Department of Home Affairs, the Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment, Austrade, and state and territory police. IIE receives regular requests from partner agencies for the development of National Offence Guides and other resources made available through our Partner Agency Portal.

Apart from providing core prosecution services to partner agencies, the practice group also engaged in regular national and regional liaison meetings to ensure a comprehensive understanding of the strategic objectives of each agency. These forums provide a valuable opportunity to discuss trends, identify systemic issues within investigative or prosecution processes, and identify potential law reform and training requirements.

As part of its liaison work, IIE continues to develop and deliver targeted training to the AFP, ABF and state and territory police.

International engagement

On 27 August 2020, IIE representatives met with members of the UN Office on Drugs and Crime. The meeting was facilitated by the Transnational Crime Section of the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade.

Taskforce participation

As an active member of the Illicit Tobacco Taskforce (ITTF), the CDPP maintains an ongoing focus on matters involving the illegal importation of tobacco products.

Taskforce activities have led to an increase in the complexity of briefs of evidence being referred to the CDPP for consideration and prosecution, along with an increase in the requests for pre‑brief advice.

The Taskforce aims to disrupt organised and systemic illicit tobacco through a multi‑disciplinary approach. This includes collaborating with international partners and law enforcement agencies, to facilitate the production of evidence to support prosecutions.

As a member of the ITTF, the CDPP attends the National Illicit Tobacco Management Group (NITMG) and the National Illicit Tobacco Senior Management Group (NITSMG) meetings. The NITSMG meets quarterly and provides strategic oversight over the ITTF and the NITMG which meets on a monthly basis. The domestic conference which was to be hosted by the ITTF has been postponed due to the current COVID‑19 pandemic. The conference will focus on Australia’s law enforcement strategy to combat illicit tobacco, and will provide an opportunity for State and Federal agencies to meet to discuss the issue.