The illicit tobacco trade is a global phenomenon that contributes to the growth of transnational organized crime and undermines public health objectives. In 2011, the RCMP seized approximately 598,000 cartons/unmarked bags of contraband cigarettes, 2,200 kg of raw leaf tobacco and 38,000 kg of fine cut tobacco. The illicit tobacco market continues to attract organized crime, undermining Canadians' expectations of safe communities and economic integrity.
To tackle this growing crime, the RCMP developed the Contraband Tobacco Enforcement Strategy, following consultations with over 70 partners and stakeholders. Launched in May 2008, the overall purpose of this strategy is to reduce the availability of, and the demand for, contraband tobacco nation-wide, while supporting government health objectives. Annual reports will be published to provide updates on the RCMP's progress and any strategic adjustments that may be required.
The RCMP continues to develop innovative operational responses to stop the flow of contraband tobacco entering Canada in the Central St Lawrence Valley Corridor.
In May 2010, the RCMP-led Combined Forces Special Enforcement Unit-Contraband Tobacco Initiative was established to bring together federal, provincial and municipal law enforcement agencies to target organized crime involved in contraband tobacco smuggling in the St. Lawrence Valley Region. By combining dedicated resources for a three year period to combat contraband tobacco crime, the unit will conduct high level investigations targeting the organized crime groups behind the manufacturing and distribution of contraband tobacco smuggling.