CRTF Reports Increase in Contraband Seizures by Snowmobile and at Cornwall's Port of Entry Over Past Few Months

CORNWALL, ON, Feb. 26, 2014 /CNW/ - On February 22, 2014, Cornwall Regional Task Force (CRTF) members were called to Cornwall's Port of Entry (POE) to process a domestic contraband cigarette seizure.  Phillip ARQUETTE (age 52) from St. Regis, Quebec was arrested and charged for possessing nineteen (19) cases of flavoured contraband cigars.  ARQUETTE was processed at Cornwall RCMP Detachment and released from custody on his own recognizance with $500 deposit.  The conveyance, a 2003 Dodge Ram pickup truck was also seized.

Early on February 13, 2014, while conducting surveillance in the South Glengarry, Ontario, area, CRTF members observed three (3) snowmobiles, with toboggans in tow, traveling northbound on the frozen St. Lawrence River towards the shore.  Minutes later, members located an inhabited shoreline residence where it is believed the snowmobilers had attended and seized two vans loaded with 22 cases of contraband cigarettes.  The snowmobilers were observed by the police departing the area in a southwesterly direction and were too far out on the ice for members to effect arrests.

On February 7, 2014, CRTF members received a complaint from a South Glengarry waterfront property owner advising of an abandoned van on his property.  CRTF members attended the residence and seized the Dodge Caravan along with its contents of 333 kilograms of fine cut tobacco.

In the evening of February 5, 2014, while conducting snowmobile patrols in the Bainsville, Ontario area, CRTF members observed four (4) snowmobilers each towing a fiberglass toboggan loaded with contraband tobacco, traveling northbound on a trail.  The members followed the snowmobilers at a distance until they stopped on the trail at what appeared to be a rendezvous location. CRTF members attended and identified themselves as police officers but all four snowmobiles fled the scene with their contraband product in tow.  One snowmobiler could not start his 2010 Bombardier snowmobile, and opted to flee the scene by diving onto one of his friend's toboggans to avoid apprehension thereby abandoning his snowmobile, toboggan and contraband.  CRTF members followed the trail and later located three (3) additional toboggans, all full with contraband product.

It is believed the smugglers opted to abandon their product to avoid police apprehension. In addition to the snowmobile and four large white fiberglass toboggans, a total of 1,646 kilograms of fine cut tobacco was seized.

During the early morning hours of February 3, 2014, while on patrol in the South Glengarry area, CRTF members observed three (3) snowmobiles pulling toboggans loaded with contraband product near the 4th Concession.  Members were able to track the snowmobiles to a location on County Road 18 where a take-down ensued.  Two suspects, Marc CUILLERIER (age 28) of St. Zotique, Quebec, and Patrick DESJARDINS (age 40) of Vaudreuil-Dorion, Quebec, were arrested at the scene for being in possession of contraband tobacco.  In addition to 82 cases of contraband cigarettes, two tan coloured 10' fiberglass toboggans were seized.  CUILLERIER and DESJARDINS were processed and later released by way of their respective Promises to Appear.

On January 20, 2014, while working in the South Glengarry, Ontario, area, RTF members encountered several snowmobiles pulling sleds from east to west across County Rd 27.  One of the snowmobiles nearly collided with an unmarked police vehicle as it was crossing the road. All of the snowmobiles fled west into a nearby field. Two of the snowmobilers dumped their sleds which contained in total 47 bags of fine cut tobacco. Homemade aluminum sleds and contraband product weighing a total of 630 kilograms were seized.

On the evening of January 13, 2014, CRTF members observed two (2) individuals walking, each with a large hockey bag, along the bike path near the RCAFA in the City of Cornwall.  When police approached to speak with the individuals, both fled on foot.  Amanda TRYON (age 23) of Cornwall, Ontario was apprehended by CRTF members a short time later.  The other individual, a male, was successful in avoiding apprehension and remains at large.  TRYON was arrested and charged for being in possession of two (2) cases of contraband cigarettes, also faces a breach of Probation charge and was held in custody pending her bail hearing.

On December 24, 27 and 28, 2013, CRTF members were called to Cornwall's Port of Entry (POE) on all three (3) separate dates to process domestic contraband cigarette seizures.

On December 24, 2013, Braiden MATTICE-SUNDAY (age 18) of Hogansburg, NY, was attempting to cross the border with seven (7) cases of contraband cigarettes in his Chevrolet Impala.  The contraband and conveyance were seized.

On December 27, 2013, Keshia THOMPSON (age 26) of Akwesasne, Ontario, had six (6) cases in her Ford Excursion.  THOMPSON's vehicle and contraband were seized.

On December 28, 2013, Lucy LACELLE (age 64) of Cornwall, Ontario, attempted to cross one (1) case of contraband cigarettes.

MATTICE-SUNDAY, THOMPSON and LACELLE were processed and released from custody to attend court at a later date.

On December 16, 2013, acting on information received and observations made, CRTF members executed a search warrant at a Cornwall, Ontario residence. During the search, the following four (4) Cornwall, Ontario residents were arrested: Claude HOULE (age 50), Karen HOULE (age 46), Paul INGOLA (age 60), and Chad LAFRANCE (age 25).

During the search, approximately three (3) cases of contraband cigarettes, approximately 12 grams of marihuana and related paraphernalia, and $1,250.00 in Canadian currency was seized.

All accused were brought to Cornwall RCMP Detachment for processing and later released on their respective Promises to Appear.  All face Excise Act 2001 charges and Karen HOULE faces an additional drug possession charge for the marihuana seized.

The individuals noted above, who have been charged under the provisions of the Excise Act, 2001, also face charges under the provincial Tobacco Tax Act for possession of unmarked cigarettes.

If you have any information regarding criminal activity in your area, you can contact the CRTF at 1-613-937-2800 or call Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-8477.

The CRTF is a joint forces partnership that includes the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, Canada Border Services Agency, Ontario Provincial Police, Cornwall Community Police Service and the Ontario Ministry of Finance.

SOURCE Cornwall Regional Task Force

For further information:

Contacts:

Sgt. Lee Côté
Cornwall RTF
613-937-2800

Sgt. Kristine Rae
Ontario Provincial Police
613-285-5479