Smuggling Smokes Drags Quebec Truckers Down
MONTREAL, QC — Two drivers and one trucking company face charges for smuggling almost 30,000 kg of tobacco at border crossings in Saint-Armand and Philipsburg and Standstead, Quebec in two separate incidents.
“Tobacco smuggling contributes to the proliferation of organized crime and poses a serious threat to the safety of Canadians, our communities and our economy,” said Steven Blaney, Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness.
“I commend the vigilant CBSA officers involved in these investigations. These seizures and arrests are a testament to our Government’s staunch commitment to stopping organized crime and those who attempt to undermine our laws by trafficking contraband goods across our border.”
Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) first caught truck driver Eric Landry, who was crossing at Stanstead Highway 55 on the night of September 26 to 27, 2013.
CBSA reports that when border service officer stopped Landry to inspect his trailer they “discovered that it was full of boxes emitting a strong tobacco smell.”
After investigating further, officers seized a total of 14,775 kg of loose tobacco in 132 boxes.
“Not declaring this tobacco means that an amount of more than $1,6 million in federal duties and taxes was attempted to be evaded,” CBSA stated.
Landry was charged on November 19, 2013, with making false or deceptive statements to a border services officer and attempting to smuggle into Canada goods that are subject to duties or for which importation is prohibited, controlled or regulated.
“Besides posing a threat to public health, the illicit tobacco market is very attractive to organized crime. Border services officers and CBSA investigators work tirelessly to disrupt criminal activities associated with the illicit tobacco trade,” said Benoît Chiquette, regional director general of the CBSA, Quebec Region.
Then, on a second and separate occasion, CBSA officers again got a whiff of a strong tobacco smell coming from the boxes in the back of a trailer a few minutes before midnight on November 21, 2013 at the Saint-Armand and Philipsburg border crossing.
On that occasion, officers seized 14,369 kg of loose tobacco in 132 boxes.
Beaulieu and the company are charged, under the Customs Act, with making false or deceptive statements to a border services officer, attempting to evade lawfully payable duties and taxes, and attempting to smuggle into Canada goods that are subject to duties or for which importation is prohibited, controlled or regulated. Beaulieu and the company are also charged, under the Excise Act, 2001, of possessing unstamped tobacco products.
“The Customs Act stipulates that all goods entering Canada must be declared to CBSA officers. Smuggling, untrue statements and other customs violations may lead to administrative sanctions and prosecution in a court of law,” Chiquette said.
Combined, the value of the two seizures in September and November is roughly the same as all the tobacco seizures of 2012. According to the CBSA, in 2012 there were 2,371 seizures, which amounted to $3,019,150.