WINNIPEG -- Authorities have seized 3.3 million contraband cigarettes from a Winnipeg man as part of a joint operation between Manitoba Finance’s Taxation Special Investigations Unit (SIU) and Ontario Provincial Police.

Daniel Deschamps, a 44-year-old from Winnipeg, was arrested by Ontario police on Nov. 29 near Thunder Bay. Authorities said he was smuggling more than 2.5 million cigarettes from Quebec into Manitoba for the purpose of resale.

Deschamps was released by the OPP and faces charges in Ontario. He returned to Winnipeg.

The Manitoba SIU said it continued the investigation and allegedly observed Deschamps leaving his residence, breaking the COVID-19 isolation regulations that were in effect for people returning from Quebec.

Deschamps was arrested and found to have 220,000 illegal cigarettes. Authorities subsequently searched two Winnipeg locations and found another 650,000 illegal cigarettes.

The province said it stood to lose $261,000 in tax revenue if these cigarettes had been sold.

Deschamps faces charges under the Manitoba Tobacco Tax Act, the Tax Administration and Miscellaneous Taxes Act and the Criminal Code of Canada.

He faces fines between $1,000 and $10,000 and/or up-to six months imprisonment if convicted. He also faces a triple tax penalty of $783,000 and forfeiture of his vehicle.

Deschamps is also charged with failing to isolate/quarantine under Manitoba COVID-19 restrictions.

None of the charges have been proven in court.