Province Makes Record Seizure of Contraband Cigarettes

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On the evening of Feb. 13, Manitoba Finance’s Taxation Special Investigations Unit, along with the Winnipeg Police Service, completed an investigation into the sale of contraband cigarettes at multiple retail locations in Winnipeg.

Investigators seized 2,050,300 cigarettes not marked for Manitoba Tax purposes.  This was a potential tax loss of $615,090 for the province and is the largest single seizure in the history of the Special Investigation’s Unit.  Along with the cigarettes, the seizure included $93,230 in cash and two motor vehicles.

Three Winnipeg residents including two adult males and an adult female now face a variety of charges under Manitoba’s Tobacco Tax Act and Tax Administration and Miscellaneous Taxes Act (TAMTA).  For a first-time offence under the provincial tax acts, individuals face fines between $1,000 and $10,000 and/or up to six months imprisonment as well as a potential triple tax penalty.  Two of accused have prior convictions, so they face more stringent penalties under TAMTA including fines between $10,000 and $50,000 and/or up to one-year imprisonment, suspensions of their driver licenses as well as a potential quadruple tax penalty of $2,460,360.  The accused will also face charges under the Criminal Code of Canada.

The province urges anyone who has information on contraband tobacco to contact their local police department, call the Manitoba Finance Special Investigations Unit at 204-945-1137, email smuggling_manitoba@rcmp-grc.gc.ca or call Manitoba Crime Stoppers (toll-free) at1-800-222-TIPS (8477).