Saguenay The police have made one of the biggest operations of their history in a vehicle, seizing 190,000 contraband cigarettes worth $ 65,000 on the black market.
Monday night, they arrested an individual of 70 years, a man that officers had arrested in 2015 for the same offense. He is liable to a heavy fine from Revenu Quebec (see other article).
The team members of Special Projects of Public Safety Saguenay (SPS) stopped the van in Hébertville, to 18 h. The assistance of the Surete du Quebec has been requested since the arrest was performed in its territory.
“This is indeed one of our largest seizures in a vehicle. We could make an arrest following public information, but also because our staff followed the man for several months. As we knew because of his arrest in 2015, we knew that he had started his ploy, “said Bruno Cormier, spokesman for the SPS.
At the time of the arrest, the septuagenarian returned to shop on the Amerindian reserve of Kahnawake, in the metropolitan area. He had filled his van 19 cases of contraband cigarettes.
“The individual was arrested and questioned at the scene of the arrest. He asked us some questions, but knew what to expect. We seized the vehicle and its contents, “added Mr. Cormier.
If this entry is possibly the most important in a vehicle, it must be remembered that the team of the SPS special projects had found 200,000 cigarettes in 2015 in two homes of Chicoutimi.
If the entry is important, it also demonstrates that it is relatively easy to obtain contraband cigarettes in Quebec. Dealers of these products, prohibited outside Indian reserves, continue to buy and sell them to customers.
“It remains a scourge and it is likely to remain as long as the price of cigarettes will be. People go into the “smoke shack” on Highway 132 near Indian reservations and there can buy cigarettes like they want. All you need is money, “says one of the team members for special projects.
“It is not forbidden to buy. That is, it is out of reserves territory of cigarettes. It is from there that we can intervene, “says the agent.
Since the beginning of 2016, the Saguenay police conducted eight arrests in connection with cigarette smuggling. They had made 16 in 2015.
“At first, in 2011-2012, we conducted more than 23 arrests. The smugglers did not expect that. ”
“Today, our work became a little more difficult since people have refined their approach. They are more suspicious, “police repents.
Officers noticed that smugglers carrying smaller amounts of contraband cigarettes (to avoid hefty fines) and therefore carry more return to the Montreal area. They also use old vehicles and do not necessarily fear they are entered.
A hefty fine to predict
Individuals 70 years arrested for smuggling 190,000 illegal cigarettes is liable to a fine of several thousand dollars.
It is too early to what the agency intends to ask Revenu Québec as a penalty, but be aware that the government is not accustomed to skimp with smugglers.
“Yes, the fine could be significant, as it is for all those who are caught with contraband cigarettes. We will build on the quantity seized and history. And for the fine, we can also consider, if we have evidence, amounts previously sold illegally by the individual, “says Geneviève Laurier, the spokesman of Revenu Québec.
This explains why the fine is not determined only in relation to the number of cigarettes seized in a vehicle or in a residence.
“The fine could be higher for someone where there are 10,000 cigarettes and has a book of all transactions in the last months or years. If we can prove this, the fine will be assessed on cigarettes illegally sold during this period, “says Ms. Laurier.
In the region, a few years ago, an individual was fined $ 795,000 for illegal cigarettes 9000 and was sentenced to 15 months’ imprisonment.
Another has been fined $ 80,000 for 5200 cigarettes and another person was sentenced to $ 77,593 in fines for 127,000 cigarettes.
About man Jonquiere, it is not exposed, for the moment, to a prison sentence, given that the charge should cover the rules of Revenu Québec.
If he had been charged under Article 121 of the Criminal Code of Canada, or of fraud on the government, the individual could be subject to imprisonment.
Asked about the possibility that these people could never overcome the amount to be repaid, Ms. Laurier says that there are always possibilities of arrangement with the government.
Some are for a refund of a few hundred dollars a month for the rest of their lives or until the expiration of the amount due.
Revenu Québec can also act on the tax treatment to recover certain amounts.