HAMILTON and NIAGARA FALLS, ON, Dec. 16, 2013 /CNW/ - The Hamilton/Niagara RCMP Detachment, Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA), Southern Ontario Region and Ontario Ministry of Finance have disrupted a large contraband tobacco smuggling and trafficking operation allegedly responsible for smuggling in excess of 73 tons of un-stamped water pipe tobacco into Canada since 2010.
In 2011, a joint investigation began into a local individual suspected of smuggling un-stamped water pipe tobacco for local distribution. As the investigation progressed, a larger organization was uncovered that reached beyond the local Hamilton area.
This organization allegedly used sophisticated methods to conceal their smuggled products and hide their operation; the volume of tobacco they are suspected to have smuggled resulted in millions of dollars in unpaid duties and taxes, and huge profits for Organized Crime.
This case shows that contraband tobacco is a significant problem in Canada and that Organized Crime groups are adapting their methods in response to increased enforcement efforts by the RCMP and its partners. Organized Crime groups seek to make a profit whenever and however they can; new Organized Crime trends will always continue to surface as long as there's money to be made from the activity. The RCMP is committed to fighting OC in all its forms, to the full extent of the law.
"The CBSA and the RCMP work side by side within a number of other joint forces operations targeting contraband," stated Inspector Steve Martin, Officer in Charge of the Hamilton/Niagara Regional RCMP Detachment. "As a result, we have a common understanding of the capabilities, intentions, vulnerabilities and limitations of organized criminal networks and we apply that intelligence to disrupt them and their supply chains."
As part of this investigation, the CBSA made two significant seizures of flavoured tobacco in the Southern Ontario Region. On July 18, 2011, officers at the Peace Bridge seized 1440 kg of flavoured tobacco and on October 4, 2011, officers at the Queenston Bridge seized 1440 kg of flavoured tobacco.
"The success of this investigation is the result of law enforcement partnerships and collaborative efforts. CBSA officers in the Southern Ontario Region worked closely with the RCMP, sharing resources, information and expertise," stated Rick Comerford, Regional Director General, Southern Ontario Region, CBSA. "Contraband tobacco is a threat to the security and health of Canadian citizens. People need to be aware that if they purchase contraband tobacco, they are funding criminal activity."
The persons charged include:
- Walid Bakhit (34), Calgary, Alberta
- Sameer Kfouf (49), Downsview, ON
- Dina Bakhit (39), Downsview, ON
- Houda Bakhit (64), Downsview, ON
- Nashwan Namrood (54) Aurora, ON
- Salti Kafouf (66), Hamilton, ON
- Layla Kafouf (63), Hamilton, ON
- Mariam Kafouf (34), Hamilton, ON
- Marleen Kafouf (26), Hamilton, ON
These individuals face numerous charges under the Customs Act, Excise Act 2001, and the Criminal Code for Smuggling, Making False Declarations, Sale and Distribution of Un-Stamped Tobacco Products and Proceeds of Crime. The investigation is continuing.
For photos related to this investigation please visit the Ontario RCMP Newsroom.
Anyone with information regarding the sale and manufacturing of contraband tobacco or suspicious cross-border activity is asked to contact the RCMP at 1-800-387-0020, Crime Stoppers at 1-800-265-4444 or the CBSA Border Watch Line at 1-888-502-9060.
SOURCE: Royal Canadian Mounted Police
For further information:
For media information
Sgt Richard Rollings
RCMP Media Relations
"O" Division (Ontario)
Jean D'Amelio Swyer
Canada Border Services Agency
Southern Ontario Region