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September 16, 2020, **SPECIAL MEDIA RELEASE** Tobacco Seizure

A lengthy joint agency investigation involving the Ontario Ministry of Finance Investigations, the Manitoba Finance Taxation Special Investigations Unit and the Brandon Police Service Major Crimes Section recently concluded with the arrest of 4 males and the seizure of a significant quantity of illegal tobacco.  Through collaborative investigation, the involved agencies identified that a group of Manitoba residents were smuggling illegal tobacco into Manitoba from a First Nations community in Ontario.  

On September 9th, 2020, Members of the Brandon Police Service and the Manitoba Finance Taxation Special Investigations Unit conducted a traffic stop on a personal vehicle towing a large enclosed trailer and executed a search warrant which yielded the seizure of 173 Cases of unmarked contraband tobacco cigarettes.  4 adult males were taken into custody.  The following day, a second search warrant was executed at a local storage locker facility where an additional 183 Cases of unmarked contraband tobacco cigarettes were seized.  In total, 3,570,400 cigarettes were seized along with currency, vehicles and a transport trailer. 

The four males arrested were all found to be residents of Brandon, Manitoba, ranging in ages from 46 to 60 years old.  All four males have been charged under Section 121.1(1) of the Criminal Code; Possession of Unstamped Tobacco and Section 80(2)(a) of The Tax Administration and Miscellaneous Taxes Act; Possess greater than 25 Units of Unmarked Tobacco.  The males were released from custody to appear in court on November 12th.  The males also face significant fines under the Provincial Tax Acts.

This tobacco represented a potential tax loss of over a million dollars to the Province of Manitoba ($1,071,120.00)

For a first time offence under the provincial tax acts, if convicted, the individuals face fines between $1,000 and $10,000 and/or up to six months imprisonment. In addition, they face a triple tax penalty of over 3 million dollars and loss of assets to the Criminal Forfeiture Unit. (TTP of $3,213,360.00)

Criminal Code conviction imprisonment could be 6 months to 5 years.

In addition to the provincial agencies named, this investigation included the involvement of the Province of Manitoba Criminal Property Forfeiture Unit with support from the Manitoba Department of Justice. 

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