SQ targets contraband tobacco, money laundering in raids
Massive operation involves drug trafficking, money laundering and contraband tobacco
By Kalina Laframboise, CBC News, March 30, 2016
The Sûreté du Québec have arrested 60 people and carried out 70 raids across Quebec as part of a massive police operation targeting contraband tobacco, drug trafficking and money laundering at an international level.
The SQ say it is the largest operation against contraband tobacco and transnational crime.
Operation Mygale involves a total of 700 officers in Quebec and Ontario, while simultaneous raids took place elsewhere across North America, in South America and in Europe.
Officers carried out arrests and raids in homes and businesses in the Montreal region, on the Kahnawake Mohawk territory on Montreal’s South Shore, the Laurentians, Lanaudière, the Montérégie and the Six Nations in Ontario.
Provincial police issued three arrest warrants for people in Kahnawake.
The Kahnawake Peacekeepers got in touch with the individuals to give them contact information for the SQ.
The Peacekeepers force says it does not get involved in tobacco investigations.
A transnational network
The individuals are part of a large criminal organization that, according to police, illegally imported 2,081 tonnes of tobacco over a two-year period between August 2014 and March 2016.
That amounted to $530 million in fraud against the provincial and federal government.
Police say the investigation revealed that individuals would buy tobacco in the United States and illegally import it into Canada. The tobacco would often come through the Lacolle, Lansdowne and Fort Erie borders to be sold in Kahnawake and Six Nations in Ontario.
Police seized tobacco, money and drugs during their two-year-long investigation, including:
- Over $13.5 million in tobacco.
- Over $1.5 million related to illicit transactions in Canada.
- Almost $3 million in American currency.
- 836 kilograms of cocaine.
- 21 kilograms of methamphetamine.
- 100 grams of Fentanyl.
- 16 kilograms of marijuana.