News Releases

Media Bulletin - Manitoba

November 3, 2022

PROVINCE ADVISES CONTRABAND TOBACCO PRODUCTS SEIZED FROM MULTIPLE RETAIL LOCATIONS IN WINNIPEG



The Special Investigations Unit (SIU) of Manitoba Finance’s Compliance and Enforcement Division, with assistance from the Quebec Provincial Police Contraband Investigation Service, Ontario Provincial Police and Winnipeg Police Service, concluded a lengthy investigation of individuals involved in the smuggling of illegal cigarettes into Manitoba.

The conclusion of ‘Project Shrek’ resulted in the largest seizure from a single individual with over three million cigarettes seized. Also seized from the individual were more than $3,000 in cash, a personal truck and a utility trailer. There were smaller quantities of cigarettes seized from other individuals. In total, 3,426,145 contraband cigarettes were confiscated.

As a result, six adults face a variety of charges under the Tobacco Tax Act, the Tax Administration and Miscellaneous Taxes Act and the Criminal Code.

The cigarettes confiscated represent $1,027,844 in tobacco tax revenue to the province and $4,063,803 in financial tax penalties upon conviction.

For a first-time offence under the tax acts, individuals face fines between $1,000 and $10,000 and/or up to six months imprisonment, as well as a potential triple tax penalty. For subsequent offences, individuals face fines of between $10,000 and $50,000 and/or up to 12 months imprisonment, as well as a potential quadruple tax penalty. Offenders also face retail tobacco licence suspensions.

Winnipeg-based stores facing charges and suspension of retail tobacco licences include:

  • Royal Supermarket, 689 Wellington Ave.;
  • Honey Convenience Store, Unit 5 - 353 Provencher Blvd.; and
  • Muncheez on Dufferin, 325 Dufferin Ave.

The smuggling and sale of illegal cigarettes are not only a tax loss to Manitobans, but pose increased health and fire hazards. Illegal cigarettes are unregulated, may contain harmful ingredients, and lack self-extinguishing features of legal brands.

The province urges anyone with information on contraband tobacco to call local police or submit tips to the Manitoba Finance Special Investigations Unit at 204-945-1137 or via email at taxation.siutips@gov.mb.ca, or contact Manitoba Crime Stoppers (toll-free) at 1-800-222-TIPS (8477).

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