When trade is treated as a crime against the state

Editor’s Note: The following article is presented as part of CRE’s ongoing commitment to ensuring that the viewpoints of all stakeholders in the contraband tobacco debate are fairly presented. See here.

From: Real Peoples Media

A backgrounder on the largest raids on the Indigenous tobacco industry in history

Tom Keefer

The largest police crackdown on the Indigenous tobacco industry in Canadian and U.S. history occurred last month. Operation Mygale, referred to in a Sûreté du Québec (SQ) press release as the “most important operation against contraband tobacco and cross border crime between Canada and the US,” culminated on March 30, 2016, as 700 police officers from 12 jurisdictions made 56 arrests, seized over $4 million in cash, and confiscated 52,800 kilograms of Indigenous tobacco worth an estimated $13.5 million.

According to SQ Captain Frédérick Gaudreau, police are aware of 158 shipments of Indigenous tobacco across the U.S.-Canadian border between August 2014 and March 2016 that total an estimated 2,294 tons. Gaudreau claims that the untaxed Indigenous tobacco was being moved across the border in 53 foot long transport trucks, and that Canadian governments have lost $530 million in potential revenue as a result. Sergeant Dany Dufour, who headed up the operation on behalf of the SQ’s “Crimes Against the State Department” estimated that in addition to this tax loss, over $20 million was earned in profit by the network importing and selling tax-free Indigenous tobacco.

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