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Truckers Smuggling Smokes Busted at Border

MONTREAL — Time to butt out smuggling. Canadian border services officers have made three separate contraband tobacco seizures in the last three weeks from truckers crossing the border.

And it's a serious crime with serious penalties, the Canadian Border Services Agency (CBSA) said.

Seizure number one was at the Herdman border crossing on March 6 when a Canadian truck driver told officers that his trailer was empty. It wasn't; 16,550 kg of loose tobacco was found.

Seizure number two was on March 11 at the Saint-Bernard-de-Lacolle border crossing. The truck driver also told officers that his trailer was empty; 132 cardboard boxes containing 16,800 kg of loose tobacco was found. Officers also seized $11,340 (CAD) under the Proceeds of Crime (Money Laundering) and Terrorist Financing Act, CBSA said.

Seizure number three was also at Saint-Bernard-de-Lacolle on March 12 — the very next day after seizure number two. The driver said he was hauling ink but officers pulled, interestingly, another 132 boxes of loose tobacco with 14,480 kg of loose tobacco.

Total market value of all three seizures is estimated to be over $5 million. Possible fines that the drivers can face? $20,000. And 14 months of jail.

At least that's the penalty a truck driver got back in Feburary for smuggling tobacco. That driver attempted to smuggle 15,186 kg of loose tobacco at the Saint-Bernard-de-Lacolle border crossing last July.

This type of offence automatically results in seizure of the goods and the vehicle, CBSA said, as well as a large fine. "In addition, if criminal responsibility is established and the circumstances are aggravating, truck drivers may be subject to criminal charges," they noted.

Benoît Chiquette, CBSA regional director general, Quebec Region, said that the CBSA "considers truck drivers who take advantage of their strategic position to smuggle goods to be breaking our relationship of trust and demonstrating a high level of responsibility for these acts."

A recent CBC story also brought attention to truck drivers smuggling cocaine in to Canada from Mexico.

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