Police Partners Create Regional Task Force

Residents Urged to Report Smuggling

CORNWALL, ON, April 7 /CNW/ - To address emerging public safety issues and residential property concerns, law enforcement officials are stepping up their battle against criminals who smuggle contraband in and through the Cornwall area.

At a media conference in Cornwall, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP), the Ontario Provincial Police (OPP), the Cornwall Community Police Service (CCPS) and the Ontario Ministry of Revenue (MOR) announced the formation of the Cornwall Regional Task Force (RTF).

"I would like to applaud the efforts of these law enforcement agencies together with the Ontario Ministry of Revenue in the creation of the Cornwall Regional Task Force," said Guy Lauzon, Member of Parliament for Stormont-Dundas-South Glengarry on behalf of the Honourable Vic Toews, Minister of Public Safety. "By working together in a coordinated effort, the Task Force will help prevent crime in our community and keep our citizens safe."

Confirmed at a multi-jurisdiction meeting in January 2010, the RTF's mandate is to enforce the law along the controlled-uncontrolled borders, gather intelligence, interdict the flow of contraband, and conduct criminal investigations into the illegal activities related to the smuggling of contraband.

    Other agencies supporting the RTF include:

    -  Public Prosecution Services Canada (PPSC) and
    -  Provincial Prosecutions (Ontario Justice).

Organized crime groups have been using residential and privately owned property, like docks and yards, to conduct their illegal activities. As a result, there has been several confrontations reported between smugglers and private land owners.

"While I completely understand the impulse for residents to protect their property as well as the frustration that they have in seeing this activity occurring in their backyard, I am concerned about their safety and that of their family, in confronting these types of people. I urge all residents to report suspicious activity and not confront smugglers directly." says RCMP Assistant Commissioner Mike McDonell.

RTF officers will concentrate on identifying and disrupting organized criminal activities in the area, which include human smuggling, the trafficking of drugs, guns, tobacco, and other related offences such as extortion and corruption.

"Using an intelligence-led approach, uniform and plain-clothed officers will conduct patrols, ensure a marine presence on the St. Lawrence River, and utilize conventional and specialized investigative techniques," says Deputy Commissioner Vince Hawkes, OPP Provincial Commander of Investigations and Organized Crime.

Many residents have been reluctant to report the incidents due to a fear of retribution, resulting in the majority of smuggling going unreported. Police are also aware of the public safety threats created by those who are transporting illegal products.

"All officers involved have indicated that those people involved in smuggling have become more aggressive and are using better vehicles and high-powered boats to conduct their illegal activities," says Deputy Commissioner Chris Lewis, OPP Provincial Commander of Field Operations.

Policing calls for service have also increased in this area, as have crimes involving theft, drugs and weapons associated with smugglers and those who are desperate to acquire those goods.

"The RTF will be working closely with its supporting partners to ensure community safety, but needs the public's help," says Chief Dan Parkinson of the Cornwall Community Police Service. "The RTF is asking residents to report smuggling and suspicious incidents immediately so that they may be investigated, the related illegal activity disrupted and those responsible brought to justice," adds Parkinson.

For emergent situations, members of the public are asked to call 911. For those wanting to provide information, they are asked to call 613-937-2800 or CrimeStoppers at 1-800-222-TIPS (8477).

Together, the community, the police and the assisting agencies can help keep this community safe and a great place to live and play.

SOURCE Royal Canadian Mounted Police

For further information: For further information: Sgt. Kristine Rae, Ontario Provincial Police, (613) 285-5479; Sgt. Michael Harvey, Royal Canadian Mounted Police, (613) 937-2800

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