The court agreed that a team of truckers had moved more than 1,000 tonnes of illicit tobacco into the Kahnwake Reserve over a period of almost two years under the noses of Canadian customs officials.
From September 2017 to May 2019, the crime agency loaded 88 tractor-trailers with bulk tobacco across the border from the United States.
As a result of the fraud, federal tobacco lost more than $ 217 million in tariffs and taxes, as we learned this week during the indictment of eight co-defendants in Longueil Courthouse.
Project Butane from the Canadian Border Services Agency (CBSA) has allowed researchers to uncover the operating practices of smugglers, including truckers, carriers and importers of goods.
The purpose of the fraud was to smuggle tobacco into the Kahnawak Indian Reserve off the south coast of Montreal.
On May 10, 2018, they seized 17,382 kilograms of tobacco, evading more than $ 2.5 million in federal duties and taxes.
Instead of fruits and vegetables
In order to deceive the customs officers, two operating methods were used. The first is when two truckers cross the border at the same time. Transportation of legal goods, fruits and vegetables intended for a reputed company. The CBSA considers this type of shipment to be “low risk”.
The other driver’s load was loaded with illicit tobacco and used a cover transaction from a product distribution company similar to or equivalent to the first legal transaction.
And drivers change their trailer before crossing the lines. They reclaimed their belongings once in Canada.
In other operations involving a single trucker, objects were hidden by a load loaded to the brim with wooden shavings. To do this, the company also created a fictional company called Les Products Foresters Drummond.
CBSA researchers were able to break through this network through a variety of investigative methods, including shadow, telephone record analysis and other communications from cell phones, geolocation data and financial data.
We see the vehicle of one of the truckers sent for a secondary inspection. He tried to exchange the road tractor and trailer with a second driver to avoid looking for the tobacco load.
After the seizure of 17,382 kg of illicit tobacco at the Saint-Bernard-de-LaColl post, the first operation mode using two truckers ended in May 2018.
The criminal organization hid the goods in wooden chips, a year later, until the second arrest, this time at the Herdmann border crossing, thirty kilometers from Salaberry-de-Valleyfield.
Two of the eight co-defendants who pleaded guilty, the main leaders, Martin Besset and Eric Laundry, were responsible for managing the tobacco entry into the country.