One day, 2.4 tons of tobacco, six arrests

Garbage bags of fine cut contraband tobacco. (RCMP via Newswatch Group, File)

CORNWALL – The Cornwall Regional Task Force seized 2.4 metric tons of tobacco in one day in two cases of smuggling on the St. Lawrence River.

Both cases happened on Thursday last week (May 5, 2016).

CRTF officers, working with Quebec Provincial Police, watched a boat pull up to a waterfront home in Sainte-Barbe, Que. early in the morning and three people were throwing bags off to the shoreline.

When officers moved in, they arrested one man, but two others on the boat tried to make a getaway.

The RCMP marine unit caught up with them, where one man thought he could escape by jumping into the freezing cold water. He was quickly fished out by the marine patrol.

Officers seized 41 garbage bags with 717 kilograms (1,580 pounds) of fine cut contraband tobacco, as well as the boat and outboard motor.

Later that night, officers moved in on a couple boats at a riverfront motel in Saint-Zotique, Que. area. where suspected smugglers were moving garbage bags into a truck.

By the time police moved in, the boats were gone, but three men were arrested on shore.

Officers seized 110 garbage bags with 1,719 kilograms (3,789 pounds) of tobacco, along with the truck.

The suspects on the boats are still at large.

In all cases, the suspects were charged under the Excise Act and the Quebec Tobacco Tax Act.

With the warmer weather, police are asking the public to be aware to suspicious late night boating activity on the river, and to report it to local authorities.