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Manitoba seizes more than 500K illegal cigarettes


The Manitoba government seized more than 500,000 contraband cigarettes from multiple Winnipeg stores, which represent nearly $163,000 in potential lost revenue to the province.

In a Thursday news release, the province announced Manitoba Finance’s compliance and enforcement division’s special investigations unit seized 543,255 illegal cigarettes from three Winnipeg residents, who are the owners of five convenience stores.

The province notes that two of these people have previous convictions for similar offences, while the third person has charges before the court.

The accused face a number of charges under the Tobacco Tax Act, the Tax Administration and Miscellaneous Taxes Act, and the Criminal Code.

These charges come following the conclusion of Project Diesel, which was an investigation into multiple Winnipeg stores that the province suspected were selling illegal cigarettes.

An individual facing a first-time offence under the tax acts could be given fines between $1,000 and $10,000; up to six months imprisonment; and the triple tax penalty. Those facing subsequent offences could face fines between $10,000 and $50,000; up to 12 months imprisonment; and a potential quadruple tax penalty. They also face the suspension of their retail tobacco licences.

The province added that the smuggling and sale of contraband cigarettes lead to tax losses for Manitoba residents, and also pose health and fire risks. Illegal cigarettes are unregulated, could contain harmful ingredients, and could also lack self-extinguishing features.

Anyone who has information regarding contraband cigarettes can call their local police department, Manitoba Finance’s special investigations unit, or Crime Stoppers. Top Stories

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