Manitoba’s Special Investigation Unit has made a significant seizure of contraband cigarettes in the province.
According to a release from the province, investigators recently concluded “Project Shrek,” which looked into the illegal cigarette trade in Manitoba. According to the province, they seized more than three million cigarettes from one person, which is the largest seizure ever made from a single person. In addition to the cigarettes, $3,000 in cash, a personal truck and a utility trailer were seized.
Police also seized smaller amounts of cigarettes, bringing the total seized to 3,426,145. Six adults are facing a variety of charges under the Tobacco Tax Act, the Tax Administration and Miscellaneous Taxes Act and the Criminal Code.
The province said the cigarettes confiscated represent $1,027,844 in tobacco tax revenue and $4,063,803 in financial tax penalties upon conviction.
In addition to the six people charged, three stores in Winnipeg are also facing charges and had their retail tobacco licences suspended: Royal Supermarket on Wellington Avenue, Honey Convenience on Provencher Boulevard and Muncheez on Dufferin Avenue.
None of the charges have been proven in court.
First-time offenders under the act face fines between $1,000 and $10,000, up to six months in jail and a potential triple tax penalty. Subsequent offences can see individuals fined between $10,000 and $50,000 and up to 12 months in jail. Offenders also face suspension of their retail tobacco licence.
The province said the Winnipeg Police Service, Ontario Provincial Police and the Quebec Provincial Police helped with the investigation.
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