A Winnipeg man has been hit with a slew of charges after more than 3 million illegal cigarettes were seized.
Manitoba Finance’s Taxation Special Investigations Unit and the Ontario Provincial Police conducted a joint operation, with the OPP pulling over the suspect on November 29 east of Thunder Bay.
Daniel Deschamps, 44, was stopped for possession of illegal cigarettes that he recently purchased in Quebec. Authorities say he was in the process of smuggling more than 2.5 million of them into Manitoba to be resold.
Deschamps was released by the OPP and faces charges in Ontario. He returned to Winnipeg.
On December 2, Deschamps was observed leaving his residence, contrary to COVID-19 isolation and quarantine regulations in effect for anyone returning from Quebec. The Manitoba SIU reported that he drove to various locations in Winnipeg.
Deschamps was arrested again and found to be in possession of 220,000 illegal cigarettes. Search warrants were executed at two locations in Winnipeg and a further 650,000 illegal cigarettes were seized. These contraband cigarettes were in addition to the 2.5 million seized in Ontario.
Manitoba stood to lose $261,000 in tax revenue if the cigarettes had been sold. If convicted, Deschamps faces fines between $1,000 and $10,000 and/or up to six months imprisonment. In addition, he faces a triple tax penalty of $783,000 and forfeiture of his motor vehicle.
The accused also faces charges for failing to isolate under Manitoba COVID-19 restrictions.