MONTREAL, March 27, 2013 /CNW Telbec/ - In the last three weeks, border services officers in Montérégie have made three significant seizures of contraband tobacco, totalling nearly 48,000 kg. The market value of these three seizures is estimated to be over $5M.
The first seizure was made at the Herdman border crossing. Border services officers intercepted a shipment on March 6, 2013, when a truck driver, a Canadian resident, arrived at the crossing in a semi-trailer. The driver reported that he was returning from a delivery in New Jersey and that his trailer was empty. Officers decided to inspect the vehicle, where they found 16,550 kg of loose tobacco.
Border services officers conducted the second seizure on March 11, 2013, at the Saint-Bernard-de-Lacolle border crossing. A truck driver, a Canadian resident, arrived at the commercial booth. He stated that his trailer was empty and that he was returning from Champlain, New York. However, officers discovered 132 cardboard boxes containing 16,800 kg of loose tobacco in the trailer. Officers also seized CAD$11,340 under the Proceeds of Crime (Money Laundering) and Terrorist Financing Act.
The third seizure was also made at the Saint-Bernard-de-Lacolle border crossing. On March 12, 2013, a truck driver, a Canadian resident, arrived at the commercial booth. He reported that his trailer contained ink, but instead border services officers found 132 boxes containing 14,480 kg of loose tobacco in the trailer.
The three truck drivers may face smuggling charges under the Customs Act.
Tobacco smuggling - serious consequences
The courts take smuggling very seriously: on February 14, 2013, before the Court of Quebec, truck driver Marc-André Parent was sentenced to 14 months in prison with no possibility of parole for tobacco products smuggling under the Customs Act, as well as 14 months of concurrent jail time with no possibility of parole for possession of unstamped tobacco products under the Excise Act, 2001. The accused must also pay a $20,000 fine. The charges brought against Parent stem from July 30, 2011, when he attempted to smuggle 15,186 kg of loose tobacco at the Saint-Bernard-de-Lacolle border crossing.
"Truck drivers who transport commercial goods across the border are in key positions that are essential to Canada's economic prosperity. The Canada Border Services Agency considers truck drivers who take advantage of their strategic position to smuggle goods to be breaking our relationship of trust and demonstrating a high level of responsibility for these acts," said Benoît Chiquette, Regional Director General, Quebec Region.
This type of offence automatically results in seizure of the goods and the vehicle, as well as a large fine. In addition, if criminal responsibility is established and the circumstances are aggravating, truck drivers may be subject to criminal charges.
Photos available on request.
SOURCE: CANADA BORDER SERVICES AGENCY
For further information:
Media Relations, Quebec Region
Canada Border Services Agency