TORONTO, Oct. 2 (UPI) — The Royal Canadian Mounted Police and other law enforcement agencies have made 14 arrests and 19 seizures of contraband tobacco, the force announced Tuesday.
The most recent incident was in the Northern Ontario city of Sault Ste. Marie, which borders Michigan. Two Ontario men were charged with possessing 40,000 illegal cigarettes and their vehicle was seized, the RCMP said in a release.
Cross-border trade of tobacco and cigarettes largely distributed through Indian reservations costs the provincial and federal government tens of millions of dollars each year in lost excise revenue.
In the southeastern corner of Ontario in Cornwall, the Mounties said 12 people from Ontario, Quebec and New York state face charges as a result of 18 raids.
About 2.2 million cigarettes and 750 pounds of loose tobacco were confiscated by Mounties and other agencies, the release said.
Additionally, 10 vehicles and a boat were taken as evidence, police said.
The Akwesasne Indian reservation near Cornwall straddles both Ontario and New York state.
In Toronto convenience stores, a legally taxed package of 20 cigarettes costs an average $9. On reservations, the same dollar amount can buy 200 cigarettes.
The U.S. and Canadian dollars are about one cent away from par.