3 Winnipeg stores, 6 people charged after millions of cigarettes found in smuggling investigation

3 Winnipeg stores, 6 people charged after millions of cigarettes found in smuggling investigation

Manitoba seizes largest ever cigarette stash, with more than 3 million cigarettes confiscated from one person in Winnipeg.

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Three Winnipeg stores and six people face charges after an interprovincial cigarette smuggling investigation, the province of Manitoba says.

The Province of Manitoba seized and confiscated upwards of three million contraband cigarettes from one person in what the province says is the largest smuggling attempt from a single person in the Manitoba’s history.

Five others and three Winnipeg stores also face charges after a smuggling investigation led by the special investigations unit of Manitoba Finance’s compliance and enforcement division, with help from police services in Quebec, Ontario and Winnipeg.

Named “Project Shrek,”  the investigation led to the confiscation of approximately 3.4 million cigarettes, the province says. Over three million cigarettes were found with one person, and smaller quantities from other people.

The confiscated cigarettes represent around $1 million in lost tobacco tax revenue to the province.

Plus, police recovered more than $3,000 in cash, and a utility trailer from the individual.

Six adults face numerous charges under the Tobacco Tax Act, the Tax Administration and Miscellaneous Taxes Act and the Criminal Code, the province says, and face more than $4 million in tax penalties.

The province didn’t release names about the individuals accused.

Three Winnipeg convenience stores also face charges and have had their retail tobacco licences suspended: Royal Supermarket on Wellington Avenue, Honey Convenience on Provencher Boulevard and Muncheez on Dufferin Avenue.

The smuggling fines for individuals under the tax acts range from $1,000 to $10,000 and up to half-a-year in prison.

For further offences, those penalties can upgrade to fines of $10,000 to $50,000 and up to one year of imprisonment.

Businesses can have their tobacco licence suspended for reason which the three stores listed above have violated.

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