CORNWALL, ON, May 13, 2016 /CNW/ - During the early morning hours of May 5th, 2016, members of the Cornwall Regional Task Force (CRTF) working in partnership with the Sûreté du Quebec Contraband Investigation Unit (SQCIU) observed a vessel, loaded with garbage bags believed to be containing contraband tobacco, traveling east on the St. Lawrence River towards the south shores in the province of Quebec. Continual surveillance of the vessel was maintained until it reached a shoreline residence in Sainte-Barbe, Quebec. Three individuals were observed removing the bags from the vessel and placing them on shore. When members converged on scene to arrest those involved, they were successful in arresting one male. The other two males had left the scene on the vessel which had just departed. Within minutes, the CRTF marine team was successful in stopping the involved vessel along with its two occupants. One vessel occupant felt he would escape capture by jumping into the frigid waters but was quickly rescued by marine operators. In total, 41 garbage bags containing fine cut contraband tobacco totaling approximately 717 kilograms, and one (1) 21 foot fiberglass boat with a 250hp Mercury outboard engine were seized. The three (3) males arrested are facing charges under the Excise Act, 2001 as well as the Quebec Tobacco Tax Act. This investigation is still ongoing.
During the early evening hours of May 5th, 2016, members of the CRTF working alongside members of the SQCIU observed two (2) boats traveling eastbound on the St. Lawrence River. Investigators surveilled both vessels throughout their route on the river until they arrived ashore at a riverfront motel in the Saint-Zotique, Quebec area. Large quantities of garbage bags, believed to be filled with fine cut tobacco, were unloaded from both vessels and placed into an awaiting 5 ton truck parked at the river's edge by individuals from the vessels and individuals observed on shore. When members moved in to arrest all parties involved, the vessels had already departed. Three males were arrested without incident. Efforts to locate the suspect vessels and apprehend the individuals proved futile. In addition to the truck, a total of 110 garbage bags containing approximately 1719 kilograms of fine cut tobacco were seized by police. The investigation is still ongoing and charges pertaining to the Excise Act, 2001 and the Quebec Tobacco Tax Act are pending for all individuals involved in this occurrence.
On two separate occasions during the past few weeks, members of the CRTF executed search warrants at two Cornwall residences. Both searches resulted in the seizure of small quantities of contraband cigarettes. In total, four (4) individuals face charges under the provisions of the Ontario Tobacco Tax Act with the Ontario Ministry of Finance for their involvement in this illicit practice.
If you have any information regarding criminal activity in your area, please contact the CRTF at 1-613-937-2800 or call Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-8477.
"With the rising temperatures, residents along St Lawrence River shoreline may notice an increase of suspicious late night boating activities," said Inspector Steve Ethier, Officer in charge of the Cornwall Regional Task Force, "With our partners, the CRTF will continue to have a strong presence both on land and on the waterways in our continued efforts in maintaining a safe Canada. We would ask that if you see any suspicious activity please report it to your local policing agency."
The CRTF is a joint forces partnership that includes the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, Ontario Provincial Police, Canada Border Services Agency, and the Ontario Ministry of Finance. CRTF is proud to be in partnership with Sûreté du Quebec Contraband Investigation Unit. We would like to extend our thanks for their ongoing assistance and cooperation.
SOURCE Royal Canadian Mounted Police
For further information: Cst. Jean Juneau, Cornwall RTF, 613-937-2800, ext. 258; A/Sgt. Angela Atkinson, Ontario Provincial Police, 613-285-2750