RCMP smoke out massive cigarette smuggling ring
The RCMP Customs and Excise Section have arrested and charged 12 people with running contraband cigarettes into Manitoba.
Project Deliverance was a 14-month investigation into the distribution of contraband cigarettes into the province. RCMP seized approximately 1.5 million cigarettes, eight vehicles, 1 horse trailer and more than $50,000 in cash.
The possession and sale of unmarked tobacco which has not been stamped is a Federal offence under the Excise Act and provincial legislation under the Tobacco Tax Act of Manitoba.
A second search warrant was executed by the RCMP with the assistance of RCMP Detachment members and investigators from Manitoba Finance - Taxation - Special Investigations Unit. A search at a property in Clandeboye resulted in the seizure of 77 cases of contraband cigarettes.
Police say the contraband cigarettes originated from Eastern Canada. The cigarettes were transported to Manitoba in vehicles and trailers and then sold by the case. Each case contained 50 ziplock bags containing 200 cigarettes each. The cigarettes were sold in Winnipeg and surrounding communities.
The Excise Act is Federal legislation available for police to enforce the illegal sale of contraband tobacco. Subjects charged with offences under the Excise Act can face heavy fines or jail sentences if convicted.
Multiple arrests and seizures were coordinated over a two month period. The 12 accused are scheduled to appear before provincial court in Winnipeg.
RCMP say the sale of contraband cigarettes impacts the public in lost tax revenue to both Federal and Provincial governments. The 1,500,000 contraband cigarettes seized by police would have resulted in a loss of $427,500 in taxes.
RCMP have identified that sales of contraband cigarettes have been linked to organized crime groups across the country. Revenues generated for organized crime groups from the sale of contraband cigarettes can be funneled into other criminal activities including drug trafficking.
One of the RCMP priorities is focusing on reducing the threat and impact of organized crime.
Police release name of those charged:
- David Errol McKinley , age 59 - Gladstone, Manitoba
- Paulo Jeorge CABRAL , 40 - Winnipeg, Manitoba
- Jose Joaquim PERIERA, 49 - Winnipeg, Manitoba
- Jose Antonio FIGUEIRIDO, 57 - Winnipeg, Manitoba
- Gary WISHNOWSKI, 47 - Oakbank, Manitoba
- Randy Kenneth WISHNOWSKI, 45 - Clandeboye, Manitoba
- Glen (Tim) COONEY, 47 - Clandeboye, Manitoba
- Shane Jonathan HEBERT, 34 - Selkirk, Manitoba
- Vitor Dasilva MIRA, 36 - Winnipeg, Manitoba
- Marco TAVARES, 33 - Winnipeg, Manitoba
- Sylvain GAGNON, 40 - St. J�r�me, Quebec
- Paul Allan DAWSON, 36, of Winnipeg, Manitoba, is charged with offences under the Excise Act, as well as offences under the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act in relation to a small marihuana grow operation discovered during the execution of a search warrant at a Winnipeg residence.
RCMP want your help
Police say there has been an increase in the availability of contraband cigarettes in Manitoba recently. The public is encouraged to provide information on contraband cigarettes to the RCMP Customs and Excise Section in Winnipeg at 983-5423 or Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-8477.