Plenty of Fine Cut Tobacco Seized

CORNWALL, ON, July 10, 2015 /CNW/ - From May to July, the Cornwall Regional Task Force (CRTF) members laid criminal charges against 3 individuals and seized the following items: 

- 1,720 kilograms of fine cut tobacco;
- 2 cases of contraband cigarettes;
- one vehicle; and,
- one boat and motor.

On May 4, 21015, members of the Cornwall Regional Task Force (CRTF) were patrolling the St. Lawrence Seaway near the Quebec Border when they observed a boat loaded with suspected tobacco and what appeared to be 2 people on board.  The boat was travelling eastbound in the channel and made landfall.  Officers located and seized 66 garbage bags of fine cut tobacco weighing approximately 869 kilograms with a value of over $78,000.  Suspects had already left the area, investigation is still ongoing. 

On May 29, 2015, members of the Cornwall Regional Task Force - Marine Section were conducting surveillance on the St Lawrence River. Just after midnight, a duck boat type vessel with 3 people on board was observed travelling eastbound without any navigation lights and travelling at a high rate of speed. The vessel made its way into Lake St-Francis, in Quebec and was observed making a U-turn and started making its way back westbound. Police activated the emergency lights and at that time, the occupants of the vessel started throwing their load of contraband into the water. Officers could see several bags floating on the water and the vessel continued travelling westbound at a high rate of speed.  The Marine Unit returned to the drop location in the Penville Bay area and retrieved 20 black garbage bags of flavoured fine cut tobacco weighing a total of 260 kilograms valued at $23,400.  The investigation continues.

On June 14, 2015, RCMP received a call from a citizen who reported that two black garbage bags of tobacco washed up on shore near a boathouse on Montreal Road in Cornwall.  CRTF members attended the scene and seized the bags.  There were 50 Ziploc bags of light cigarettes contained in each garbage bag for a total 100 baggies of contraband cigarettes with a value of $2,200.  No suspects have yet been identified. 

Members of the CRTF were working in the Bainsville area on June 15, 2015, when at approximately 2:50 pm, officers observed a red van backed up to the shoreline on a private property located on County Road 2.  Police observed a person moving items from the shoreline to the trunk of the van. It is alleged that the same person was observed leaving the private property in the red van.  Police stopped the vehicle shortly thereafter.  Further investigation allowed officers to find and seize garbage bags containing contraband tobacco inside the vehicle.  The male, identified as 28 year old William CARRUBBA of Repentigny Quebec, was arrested and charged under Section 32(1) of the Excise Act, 2001.  At the time of his arrest, he was found to be in breach of his probation conditions and was charged under the Criminal Code of Canada. Officers seized 591 kilograms of fine cut tobacco worth $53,249 as well as the 2007 Chevy Uplander that he was driving.  CARRUBBA was released on a Promise to Appear and is scheduled for a first appearance in Cornwall Court on July 28, 2015. 

At approximately 6:00 pm, on June 29, 2015, Akwesasne Mohawk Police Service (AMPS) were dispatched in response to a complaint in the area of St Regis Quebec, where two suspicious persons were dropped off by boat. Upon arrival, AMPS members located the suspicious individuals who were later identified as 55 year old William Eugene KEENAN and his 52 year old wife Margaret Ann KEENAN, both of the United Kingdom.  Police allege that the KEENANS had crossed the St. Lawrence River to be illegally smuggled to the United States.  The individuals were turned over to CRTF members and CBSA for further investigation.  They were both subsequently charged for Conspiracy to Commit an Indictable Offence in the United States, and William KEENAN, was further charged with Obstruction, as he allegedly provided officers with a false name at the time of arrest. They are still in custody pending their respective bail hearings. 

On July 2, 2015, CRTF Marine Unit members were patrolling the St Lawrence River when they observed a large smuggling type vessel travelling eastbound in an area commonly used to transit illegal commodities. This same vessel had managed to evade police interception with a load of contraband on a previous date.  On this occasion, the vessel was successfully stopped by police.  The boat had no hull number and was powered by an oversized Evinrude 300 hp outboard engine, and both were seized under the Customs Act. Charges have not yet been laid as the investigation is continuing. 

"With the nice weather upon us, there are more boaters on the water, which could mean more instances of smuggling.  Don't hesitate to report any suspicious activity in the water or on land, it's everyone's duty to keep our community safe" said Sgt. Stephane Leclerc, Acting OIC of Cornwall RTF.

The individuals noted above, who have been charged under the provisions of the Excise Act, 2001, also face charges under the provincial Tobacco Tax Act for possession of unmarked cigarettes.

If you have any information regarding criminal activity in your area, you can contact the CRTF at 1-613-937-2800 or call Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-8477.

The CRTF is a joint forces partnership that includes the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, Ontario Provincial Police, Canada Border Services Agency, Akwesasne Mohawk Police Service, and the Ontario Ministry of Finance.

SOURCE Cornwall Regional Task Force

For further information: Cst. Jean Juneau, Cornwall RTF, 613-937-2800, ext. 258; Sgt. Kristine Rae, Ontario Provincial Police, 613-285-5479

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