MIRAMICHI (GNB) – Enforcement officers from the Department of Justice and Public Safety, in partnership with the Miramichi Police Force, seized 513,261 illegal cigarettes, $12,232 in cash and a quantity of illicit pills on March 25.

Two search warrants pursuant to the Criminal Code and the Controlled Drugs and Substance Act were executed by members of the joint forces investigation. A 2002 Chevrolet Express Panel van was also seized as offense-related property.

A 47-year-old man from Moncton and a 33-year-old woman from Irishtown were arrested for transporting tobacco products not stamped in accordance with Section 2 of the Excise Act contrary to Section 121.1 of the Criminal Code of Canada.

The woman was subsequently released to appear in provincial court in Miramichi at a later date. Charges under the Tobacco Tax Act and the Criminal Code of Canada are anticipated. The man was also charged with possession of a controlled substance contrary to the Controlled Drugs and Substance Act and is being held in custody pending an appearance in provincial court in Moncton on April 16. The investigation is ongoing and further charges are anticipated.

The tobacco seizure represents a provincial tax value of about $130,984 and an additional tobacco excise tax value of $107,784.81. The contraband tobacco market is estimated to represent a revenue loss to the province of $13 million annually.

Revenue from the sale of illegal tobacco is often funnelled into organized crime and supports the underground economy in New Brunswick. Illegal tobacco works against government cessation programs and poses a greater risk to increased smoking rates for youth. Smoking is the most important cause of premature death in Canada; each day, 100 Canadians die of a smoking-related illness.

Anyone with information on the sale and distribution of illegal tobacco is encouraged to contact Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-TIPS (8477).