CORNWALL, Ontario – The National Coalition Against Contraband Tobacco (NCACT) held a press conference on Wednesday, Sept. 11 outside of the Cornwall RCMP detachment, announcing the third installation of a ‘Dirty Money’ investigation into organized crime and money laundering in Canada.
The report suggests that ‘Cornwall continues to be the primary gateway for illegal tobacco making its way into Canada from the United States.’ The report also compares the difference in enforcement of illegal cigarettes in Quebec and Ontario, reporting that the Quebec government has reduced their rate of contraband tobacco by 50 per cent, seeing a gain of over $200 million due to increased provincial excise tax. Meanwhile, the Ontario government reportedly sees the loss of over $750 million in provincial excise tax revenue with an estimated one in three cigarettes purchased illegally.
“The illegal tobacco trade is lucrative for gangs for several reasons…(one being) because the OPP have limited investigative resources and local and regional police services have not been given the powers to conduct full contraband tobacco investigations,” said Ron Bell, National Spokesperson with NCACT.
Illegal cigarettes can reportedly earn more than 400 per cent profit in almost any community in Ontario, with profits often used for other illicit trades or laundered through businesses. Although the ‘Dirty Money – Part 3’ report largely pertains to money laundering in the province of B.C., the report discusses similarities across Ontario.
“Fortunately, the Ontario Government signaled in their 2018 Fall Economic Statement that they would be taking action against illegal tobacco. However, we have seen no follow-ups to these promises. We know the Ford Government keeps its promises and know the time is now to stop the illicit and lucrative trade of illegal tobacco,” said Bell.