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Attentive officers weed ​out illegal tobacco destined for prison

Issued: Tuesday, 28 February 2017

Correctional officers have netted a major haul of tobacco, with an estimated prison value of $6,000, during a search of a prison in the state’s Hunter region.

Staff conducted an intelligence-based search and found the tobacco and other contraband in a shopping bag in weeds near a drain at St Heliers Correctional Centre on Saturday afternoon. 

Governor Bill Fitttler said staff had been carefully inspecting the visitor car park and surrounds after visiting hours when the contraband was spotted. 

“I congratulate vigilant staff on the find as the more tobacco and other contraband seized by staff means the less circulating among inmates,” Mr Fittler said.  

“Investigations continue into which visitor owned the tobacco but it’s clear it was headed for prison.

“The value of tobacco to inmates is much greater following the smoking ban in August 2015.”

The operation found 20 pouches of rolling tobacco that can be worth up to $300 each in a minimum-security prison such as St Heliers. The search also netted:

  • 19 packs of rolling papers;
  • Two cigarette lighters;
  • A 700mL bottle of whisky;
  • A 100g container of black pepper; and
  • Three toothbrushes. 
In a separate find nearby, a resealable sandwich bag containing tobacco and cigarette papers was discovered in the fork of a tree. The tobacco weighed 51.5 grams. 

Minister for Corrections David Elliott said this incident is another reminder for all prison visitors that CSNSW will not tolerate tobacco smuggled into the state’s correctional centres. 

“The consequences are very strong and visitors caught bringing contraband into prisons face penalties of up to two years’ imprisonment and other drug-related charges,” Mr Elliott said.

“Another penalty is a ban on visits of up to two years.

“Smoking is not permitted anywhere on the grounds of a correctional centre and complex including car parks and walkways.” 

In the past year, 223 visitors have been banned from correctional centres for two years for trafficking tobacco. 

For more information about the CSNSW Smoke Free Project, visit: