A six-week investigation into smuggling into Manitoba resulted in the seizure of 92 cases of unmarked contraband cigarettes and over 53 pounds of illicit cannabis this week.
Five Manitoba residents were taken into custody. Three vehicles and three trailers were seized, along with $25,000 in cash.
The joint agency investigation involved the Manitoba Finance Taxation Special Services Investigations Unit and Brandon Police Service Major Crime Section.
The 92 cases of tobacco each contained 10,000 cigarettes under different brand names. Most of the cannabis was in pre-roll or dried flower and packaged as “Top Shelf BC Bud”. Despite the brand name, police are not certain of the origin of the cannabis, but a police spokesperson says the tobacco appears to have originated from a Six Nations community outside Hamilton, Ontario.
The five men arrested ranged 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.
Brandon Police Services say the tobacco represented a potential tax loss of over a million dollars to the Province of Manitoba.