The Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) Customs and Excise Unit (C&E) and Service Nova Scotia and Municipal Relations have concluded a seven-month investigation into a criminal group that was transporting illegal cigarettes from Quebec to Nova Scotia for distribution throughout Halifax Regional Municipality.
The investigation resulted in four search warrants being executed and the seizure of approximately 700, 000 contraband cigarettes, approximately two pounds of marihuana, six vehicles, and a quantity of cash.
In total six men were arrested; five men including a 54 year-old Lower Sackville man, a 44 year-old Bedford man, a 54 year-old Dartmouth man, a 56 year-old Dartmouth man, and a 24 year-old Dartmouth man, are facing charges of Conspiracy to Possess Unstamped Tobacco (Criminal Code) 465(1)(c), Possession of Unstamped Tobacco under the Excise Act 216(1), Possession of Tobacco on which tax had not been paid (under the Revenue Act) 39(1)(a) and Possession of Tobacco not bearing the prescribed markings (under the Revenue Act) 39(1)(b).
The 54 year-old Dartmouth man will face an additional charge of Possession of a Controlled Substance for the Purpose of Trafficking under the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act, 5(2).
The accused were released on a Promise to Appear and are scheduled to attend Dartmouth Provincial Court on September 20, 2011.
A sixth man,Yahya Hamouche, age 21 of Laval, Quebec appeared in Dartmouth Provincial Court on Friday May 6, 2011 where he pleaded guilty and received a fine of more than $450, 000 for a Provincial Revenue Act charge on possessing tobacco on which taxes had not been paid and for an Excise Act charge.
“Illegal tobacco is a large money-maker for organized criminal groups,” says RCMP Staff Sergeant Al Harding, Border Integrity Coordinator for Nova Scotia. “Contraband tobacco is not a victimless crime; the sale of contraband tobacco products has been linked to organized crime.” Harding added, “When people knowingly purchase or sell contraband tobacco they could be helping these types of criminal groups and often times the profits are used to finance drug trafficking, purchase illegal weapons, and fund other illicit activities.”