Over three metric tonnes of contraband tobacco products were seized following a joint investigation carried out by Alberta Gaming, Liquor, and Cannabis and Alberta Sheriffs.
According to an AGLC release, the 3,039 kilograms of tobacco was in the form of waterpipe (shisha) and contraband cigarettes and is estimated to be valued at around $2.5 million.
The product was seized at a storage locker facility in Edmonton, and three people have been arrested and charged with trafficking contraband tobacco.
Imad Assi, Ibrahim Al-Sabbag, and Mahmud Al-Sabbag are expected to appear in Edmonton Provincial Court on April 17.
The amount of product seized would have resulted in a total potential tax loss of over $972,000, according to the release.
“In addition to lost revenues that may otherwise benefit Albertans, illegally manufactured products also pose public health and safety risks,” the release read.
“Safeguards are in place for consumers that purchase federally regulated and inspected products.”
The release defines contraband tobacco as any product that “does not comply with federal and provincial laws related to importation, marking, manufacturing, stamping and payment of duties and taxes; comes from four main sources: illegal manufacturers, counterfeits, tax-exempt diversions and resale of stolen legal tobacco; and can be recognized by the absence of a red (Alberta) or peach/light tan (Canada) stamp bearing the ‘DUTY PAID CANADA DROIT ACQUITTÉ’ on packages of cigarettes and cigars or pouches.”
If Albertans suspect that their tobacco may have been illegally produced, packaged, or trafficked, they can report it to the AGLC by calling 1-800-577-2522.