Following a six-week joint agency investigation involving the Manitoba Finance Taxation Special Services Investigations Unit and Brandon Police Service Major Crime Section, a significant quantity of illegal tobacco was seized.
The investigation revealed that a group of Manitoba residents were smuggling the tobacco into the province.
On April 23, 2021, members intercepted a shipment of illicit cigarettes in the RM of Whitehead. Five males were taken into custody. Three vehicles and three trailers were seized and warrants to search these vehicles were acted on April 27, 2021.
92 cases of unmarked contraband tobacco cigarettes were seized. Within each case are 10,000 cigarettes. Also seized was over 53 pounds of illicit marihuana and over $25,000 in cash.
Five males were arrested, ranging in ages from 46-60 years-old. Four of them are residents of Brandon, with the fifth male being from Gilbert Plains. They were each charged under section 121.1(1) of the Criminal code; Possession of Unauthorized stamped Tobacco and section 80(2) (a) of the Tax Administrative and Miscellaneous Taxes Act; Possess greater than 25 Units of Unmarked Tobacco. The male from Gilbert Plains was also charged with section 9(2) of the Cannabis Act; Possession for the Purpose of Distributing as well as Possession of Proceeds of Crime under Section 235(1) of the Criminal code. They were released from custody and will all be appearing in court in July 2021.
The tobacco represented a potential tax loss of over a million dollars to the Province of Manitoba.