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Australian Gangs Torching Tobacco Shops

Tobacco Reporter Archive

Police in the Australian state of Victoria have arrested five individuals believed to be connected to the Finks outlaw motorcycle gang and a series of arson attacks on tobacco stores in Victoria.

The arrests are a police response to the so-called tobacco wars, which have seen criminal gangs fight for control of the “significant source of income” generated by the sale of illicit tobacco.

Victoria police Det. Insp. Graham Banks acknowledged community concern about the attacks in recent weeks and said the force was “turning the corner” with new intelligence, according to media reports.

The arrests are related to the torching of four tobacco stores and a cafe between Christmas Day and Friday in Moe, Croydon, Altona, Altona North and Sunshine.

On each occasion, police allege the offenders broke into the stores before setting them ablaze.

Police report they found five vehicles believed to have been stolen when arresting the group, along with Molotov cocktails.

“We believe they were preparing to do further attacks, so this is a substantial series of arrests,” Banks said. “This certainly impacts a syndicate that is driving this.

“There is still a significant conflict between multiple different groups over control of a significant source of income. It will be an ongoing issue for several months, but we’re certainly turning the corner.”