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RCMP seize $12 million worth of illicit cigarettes in Mission and Maple Ridge

Federal Mounties nab 45 pallets of tobacco, 70 pounds of silver and $100,000 in cash
Federal RCMP seized 45 pallets of illicit tobacco from locations in Mission and Maple Ridge on Feb. 28. /RCMP Photo

Federal RCMP investigators seized 45 pallets of illicit tobacco, 70 pounds of silver and $100,000 in cash from locations in Mission and Maple Ridge last week.

The Mission detachment assisted the RCMP Clandestine Laboratories Enforcement and Response (CLEAR) team with executing four search warrants on Feb. 28, according to an RCMP news release on Friday (March 8). The estimated 67,500 seized cigarette cartons have a retail value of over $12 million.

Two people were arrested for their alleged involvement in trafficking contraband tobacco and RCMP says the seizure “dismantles criminal networks involved”.

The investigation was first launched in fall 2023 by the RCMP’s Federal Serious & Organized Crime (FSOC) Border Integrity program. It led to the discovery of several locations believed to be used for storage, along with distribution facilities for contraband tobacco.

Other agencies assisted as well, including the FSOC Financial Integrity program, the Pacific Region Shiprider program and the BC Ministry of Finance’s Tax Fraud Investigations Unit.

In February, B.C.’s Combined Forces Special Enforcement Unit announced a similar investigation that led to four suspects being arrested and involved search warrants across Langley, Abbotsford, Surrey and Victoria.

The combined amount of contraband cigarettes seized by Federal investigators in the past year comes to an estimated total of 27 tonnes, with a street value of $24 million.

“As part of the RCMP’s Contraband Tobacco Enforcement Strategy, the RCMP Federal Policing program continues to actively pursue organized crime groups involved in the trafficking of illicit tobacco,” RCMP assistant commissioner David Teboul said in a news release.

“Most of these criminal organizations are also involved in the distribution of illicit drugs, and use the same drug pipelines for their movement; therefore, these collaborative enforcement efforts between partner agencies, RCMP FSOC, and the BC Ministry of Finance – Investigations Unit, will certainly have a crippling effect on the activities of organized crime groups involved.”

In Canada, it is illegal to sell illicit cigarettes not approved by Health Canada, thus not having the regulated stamps or markings and warning labels. It is also illegal to sell cigarettes without a valid tobacco retail dealer’s permit belonging to the owner of the tobacco product for each location that tobacco products are sold.

READ MORE: Mission man identified as victim of Toronto homicide

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Dillon White

About the Author: Dillon White

I joined the Mission Record in November of 2022 after moving to B.C. from Nova Scotia earlier in the year.
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