Police seize more than 310,000 contraband cigarettes, charge 52 people at Manitoba-Ontario border

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Police have seized more than 300,000 contraband cigarettes at the Manitoba-Ontario provincial boundary as part of an effort to crack down on tobacco-related offences.

Officers also seized 7,600 grams of fine-cut tobacco as part of the partnership between Manitoba Finance’s Taxation Special Investigations Unit, the RCMP, the Ontario Ministry of Finance’s Compliance Branch and the Treaty Three Police Service, the Manitoba government said in a news release.

Now, 52 people are facing charges under The Manitoba Tobacco Tax Act, The Tax Administration and Miscellaneous Taxes Act and the Criminal Code.

In total, 311,930 cigarettes were seized — which would have cost Manitoba $97,037 in tax revenue if they had been sold.

Depending on the size of each seizure, the people charged may face a set fine penalty of $2,542, or a fine between $1,000 and $10,000. The suspects could also face up to six months imprisonment along with potential triple tax penalties. Combined, the expected penalties total $305,619, the province said.

On top of the tobacco-related charges, two of the suspects were also hit with separate drug charges. Three speeding tickets, two tickets for driving without a valid driver’s licence and one ticket for driving an unregistered vehicle were also handed out.

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