Would-be smuggler jumps into frigid St. Lawrence, rescued by cops

Would-be smuggler jumps into frigid St. Lawrence, rescued by cops
Dozens of bags of contraband seized by police.

CORNWALL, Ontario – A would-be smuggler minutes away from getting nabbed by police on the St. Lawrence River tried unsucessfully to swim for it this month.

Police said the man jumped from a fiberglass boat into the frigid waters of the river, and was soon after rescued by police officers intent on stopping the vessel.

“With the rising temperatures, residents along St. Lawrence River shoreline may notice an increase of suspicious late-night boating activities,” said Insp. Steve Ethier, officer in charge of the Cornwall Regional Task Force. “With our partners, the CRTF will continue to have a strong presence both on land and on the waterways in our continued efforts in maintaining a safe Canada.  We would ask that if you see any suspicious activity please report it to your local policing agency.” 

During the early morning hours of May 5 members of the Cornwall Regional Task Force (CRTF) working in partnership with the Sûreté du Quebec Contraband Investigation Unit (SQCIU) observed a vessel, loaded with garbage bags believed to be containing contraband tobacco, traveling east on the St. Lawrence River towards the south shores Quebec.

The vessel soon reached a shoreline residence in Sainte-Barbe, Que. and three people were seen removing bags from the boat and placing them on the shore. Police swooped in and got one of the men, before the other two took off in the boat.

Within minutes, the CRTF marine team was successful in stopping the involved vessel along with its two occupants, before one of the men jumped into the water. Forty one garbage bags containing fine cut contraband tobacco totaling approximately 717 kg, and the boat with a 250hp Mercury outboard engine were seized.  The three males arrested are facing charges under the Excise Act, 2001 as well as the Quebec Tobacco Tax Act. 

The investigation is still ongoing. 

Later the same day in a separate incident police seized another truck containing a total of 110 garbage bags filled with approximately 1,719 kg of fine cut tobacco. Three males were arrested in that incident in Quebec and charges are pending.

Finally, on two separate occasions during the past few weeks, members of the CRTF executed search warrants at two Cornwall residences. Both searches resulted in the seizure of small quantities of contraband cigarettes. In total, four individuals face charges under the provisions of the Ontario Tobacco Tax Act with the Ontario Ministry of Finance for their involvement in this illicit practice. 

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