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9 Arrested after RCMP disrupt Illegal Tobacco Distribution Network

LONDON, ON, May 2, 2014 - The London Detachment of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) have charged 9 persons after investigating various groups that were allegedly involved in the production and distribution of illegal tobacco.

A plastic bag containing marihuana
A plastic bag containing marihuana

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Numerous marihuana plants inside a grow operation
Numerous marihuana plants inside a grow operation

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Numerous bags of leaf tobacco in the back of a semi-trailer
Numerous bags of leaf tobacco in the back of a semi-trailer

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Photo of a semi-truck and trailer parked in a parking lot
Photo of a semi-truck and trailer parked in a parking lot

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Numerous farm implement items
Numerous farm implement items

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The investigations began after the RCMP received information that several Southwestern Ontario tobacco growers were involved in producing more tobacco then they were legally allowed and selling the additional tobacco through the 'black market'.

As the investigations unfolded, it was determined that various growers and brokers were involved in the illegal sale of large amounts of raw leaf tobacco as well as finished tobacco products. The RCMP employed a number of police techniques during these investigations and executed numerous search warrants to gather evidence.

Over the past week, members from the RCMP conducted numerous operations throughout Southwestern Ontario which included the execution of 6 search warrants and the arrest of 9 persons. As a result of these operations, and previous related seizures, we have seized:

  • 6 trucks, 1 tractor, 1 car, 1 boat, 1 snowmobile and 1 motorcycle
  • Over 60 kgs of marihuana
  • 950 marihuana plants
  • 2 bricks of hashish
  • Small amounts of cocaine, Ketamine and MDMA
  • $85,000 cash
  • Large amounts of raw leaf tobacco worth over $300,000
  • 45 shotguns

As a result of these investigations, 9 people have been charged with various offences relating to the sale and distribution of illegal tobacco under the Criminal Code, the Excise Act (2001) and the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act. The people arrested will be making court appearances over the next few weeks and further arrests and charges are anticipated.

"Contraband tobacco introduces criminal activity directly into our communities and supports the growth of an underground economy that poses a serious threat to public safety," stated Superintendent Jamie Jagoe, Ontario RCMP - Southwest District Commander. He added, "Profits from the sale of contraband tobacco are often used to fund other illegal activities, such as the movement of drugs, weapons and money laundering operations."

Tobacco production and distribution is a highly regulated industry. Growers are legislated to abide by rules governing the amount of tobacco they can produce and distribute. For further information on tobacco grower regulations please visit: http://www.fin.gov.on.ca/en/tax/tt/rawleaf.html

The RCMP would like to thank FINTRAC (Financial Transactions and Reports Analysis Centre of Canada), RCMP in Quebec ("C" Division), the Ontario Provincial Police (OPP), Peel Regional Police Service, Brantford Police Service, Hamilton/Niagara RCMP Detachment, the Cornwall Regional Task Force (CRTF) and the Ontario Flue-Cured Tobacco Growers' Marketing Board for their invaluable assistance during these investigations.

Anyone with information regarding criminal activity is encouraged to contact their local police, the RCMP at 1-800-387-0020 or Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-TIPS.

For photos related to these investigations please visit the Ontario RCMP Newsroom.

For further information:

Sgt Richard Rollings
RCMP Media Relations
"O" Division (Ontario)
416-992-4409

Twitter: @RCMPONT
Facebook: RCMP.Ontario
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Website: RCMP in Ontario