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The RCMP estimates about 50 contraband tobacco manufacturers are operating on First Nations territories in Ontario and Quebec, according to a briefing document sent to the federal public safety minister earlier this year.
The document, released under access-to-information legislation, states that dozens of organized crime groups — mostly in Central Canada — are involved in the distribution of illegal smokes and re-investing the profits they make into other crimes, including the trafficking of illicit drugs and firearms and human smuggling.
In March, the Conservative government proposed new measures, including mandatory minimum penalties for repeat offenders involved in “high volume” trafficking and the creation of a 50-member RCMP anti-contraband force, to tackle the problem.
But the prime minister’s recent decision to prorogue Parliament and launch a new session in October means Bill S-16 likely will be scrapped, though it can be re-introduced.