1000 Islands Integrated Border Enforcement Team butts out cigarette operation
on St. Lawrence River

KINGSTON, ON, Oct. 15 /CNW/ - On October 6th, 2009, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police in conjunction with the Canada Border Services Agency, Ontario Provincial Police, Kingston Police Service, New York State Police, United States Border Patrol, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement and Metro Jefferson Drug Task Force worked in partnership to conduct Project "OBOXED". This investigation targeted a contraband smuggling operation on the St. Lawrence River. This joint investigation with United States partners was successful in intercepting illegal contraband tobacco and disrupting a smuggling organization that was operating between the Kingston area and northern New York state.

Four individuals were arrested in Canada, and one in the United States. A total of 6,500 cartons of untaxed contraband cigarettes, two boats, two boat trailers, four vehicles and approximately $27,000.00 in Canadian currency was seized. A portion of the seized contraband cigarettes had been smuggled across the St. Lawrence River from the United States into Canada.

The four persons arrested in Canada were Eric STILES (Age 32) of Ottawa, Ontario; Ali AFFAT (Age 26) of Nepean, Ontario; Andrea D'AVIERO (Age 35) of Ottawa, Ontario; and Robert St. LAURENT (Age 48) of Gatineau, Quebec. Arrested in the United States and charged with possession of cocaine and hashish was John Lee RANKIN (Age 34) of Nepean, Ontario. RANKIN was arraigned in the Town of Alexandria Court and sent to Jefferson County jail. Additional state and federal charges are pending.

All four individuals arrested in Canada have been charged with Customs and Excise offences relating to the possession and smuggling of prohibited goods. Ali AFFAT and Andrea D'AVIERO were released on bail on October 6, 2009 and Robert St. LAURENT was released October 13, 2009 in Kingston, Ontario. Eric STILES is currently being held pending bail and will appear in Kingston Court on October 16, 2009.

The 1000 Islands Integrated Border Enforcement Team is one (1) of fifteen (15) Integrated Border Enforcement Teams (IBETs) across the country located along our International Border with the United States. They provide a federally mandated response to National Security and criminality along the longest undefended border in the world.

RCMP is the lead agency in the province of Ontario for the IBET teams that have been established for border security and front line law enforcement along the Canada/US border from the Province of Quebec to the Province of Manitoba. The 1000 Islands IBET plays a vital role in meeting the RCMP's mandate for safe homes and safe communities by directly targeting two of the RCMP's five Strategic Priorities, these being Organized Crime and Terrorism. To combat these elements the IBET team is tasked with operating anywhere along the border between the Ports of Entry.

The on-going collaboration between Canadian and United States law enforcement agencies in this joint effort was key to the success of this investigation. "Criminal organizations are increasingly involved in the contraband tobacco market and they are making huge profits from the trade at the expense of legitimate businesses." stated Sgt. Rick Hudson, who is in charge of the RCMP Integrated Border Enforcement Team (IBET).

The public is reminded that they can provide information relating to any criminal activity by contacting the Provincial Crime Stoppers agency confidential tip line at 1-800-222-TIPS (8477).

SOURCE Royal Canadian Mounted Police

For further information: For further information: Cpl. Blair J. Kelly, Royal Canadian Mounted Police, Kingston Detachment Proceeds of Crime, (613) 384-2750 Ext. 229

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