Biggest Illegal Tobacco Bust in North American History Shows Need for Government Action on Contraband Cigarettes

OTTAWA, April 19, 2016 /CNW/ - Today, members of the National Coalition Against Contraband Tobacco (NCACT) met with Members of Parliament and policy advisors to stress the importance of the federal government taking action on Canada's illegal tobacco market.

"Less than one month ago the biggest illegal tobacco bust in North American history took place in Canada. This bust, known as Operation Mygale, which involved over 700 police officers, resulted in the arrests of more than 60 people and included the seizure of close to 53,000 kg of tobacco. According to law enforcement groups, over the past 18 months the criminals involved in this bust illegally imported into Canada close to 2,300 tons of processed tobacco, which represents a total production of 4 billion cigarettes," said Gary Grant, a 39-year veteran of the Toronto Police Service and national spokesperson for the NCACT. "This bust also included the seizure of 836 kilograms of cocaine and other drugs. Clearly this is a problem which isn't getting better which is why we are here today."

Illegal cigarettes fund some of Canada's least desirable elements. The RCMP estimates that contraband tobacco is the cash cow of more than 175 criminal gangs, who use the proceeds to finance their other activities, including guns, drugs, and human smuggling.

"One of our key recommendations to MPs focuses on the need for the government to do more to curb the supply of illegal cigarettes at the manufacturing level," continued Grant. "Illegal factories across Canada can produce millions of cigarettes in a day. A key way of reducing this is making manufacturing materials, like what is used in cigarette filters, harder to get. If the government is serious about reducing illegal cigarette production, this is an important step."

Contraband tobacco is extremely cheap, a "baggie" of 200 cigarettes often costs less than a movie ticket, or 1/10th the price of legal product. It is sold through a criminal distribution network that connects cigarettes to kids without the hassles of checking for I.D. This dangerous combination of low-price and easy accessibility has made illegal cigarettes a prime source for youth smoking. In fact, a study by the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health flagged the easy accessibility of contraband tobacco and its low price as being especially attractive to youth.

"Contraband tobacco undermines government's tobacco control regulations and education efforts. Baggies filled with illegal cigarettes contain little or no warnings. If young people are not asked to show identification when buying illicit products, it makes it impossible to control their access to tobacco," concluded Grant. "Society loses. Organized crime wins. It's critical the federal get involved and make this Canada-wide problem a priority."

For more information on Project Mygale, click here: bikers-reserves/

The National Coalition Against Contraband Tobacco is a Canadian advocacy group formed with the participation of businesses, organizations and individuals concerned about the growing danger of contraband cigarettes. NCACT members share the goals of working together to educate people and urge government to take quick action to stop this growing threat.

The members of the NCACT are: Association des détaillants en alimentation du Québec (ADA), Association des marchands dépanneurs et épiciers du Québec (AMDEQ), Canadian Chamber of Commerce, Canadian Convenience Stores Association (CCSA), Canadian Manufacturers and Exporters, Canadian Taxpayers Federation, Canadian Tobacco Manufacturers Council, Conseil du patronat du Québec (CPQ), Customs and Immigration Union, Échec au crime Québec, Fédération des chambres de commerce du Québec (FCCQ), Frontier Duty Free Association (FDFA), National Convenience Stores Distributors Association (NACDA), Ontario Chamber of Commerce, Retail Council of Canada, Toronto Crime Stoppers, United Korean Commerce and Industry Association (UKCIA), and National Capital Area Crime Stoppers.


SOURCE National Coalition Against Contraband Tobacco (NCACT)

For further information: To arrange interviews with Mr. Grant or Mr. Rouillard, please contact: Cynthia Waldmeier, NCACT Public Affairs, Telephone: 613-894-2128 (cell); (p) 1-866-950-5551, Email:


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