More than 144 kg of contraband waterpipe tobacco (shisha), chewing tobacco and cigars were seized in three separate busts by the Alberta Gaming and Liquor Commission (AGLC). The total potential lost tax revenue is estimated to be more than $32,000.
The contraband products were found in September and October as a result of separate investigations in Fort McMurray, Grande Prairie and Calgary. Three individuals have been charged separately with various violations under the Criminal Code and Tobacco Tax Act:
- Ebrahim Alshihabi (appeared in Fort McMurray Provincial Court on November 5, 2014);
- Timothy Trepanier (scheduled to appear in Grande Prairie Provincial Court on January 12, 2015); and
- Sikandarhaya Visram (scheduled to appear in Calgary Provincial Court on December 1, 2014).
- is any tobacco 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 ACQUITTE” on packages of cigarettes and cigars or pouches of tobacco.
All wholesalers and importers of tobacco into Alberta must be licensed to sell or import tobacco for resale. In addition, all tobacco products must be labelled according to federal and provincial regulations.
Albertans who suspect illegal tobacco production, packaging and/or trafficking, are encouraged to contact the AGLC Tobacco Enforcement Unit at 1-800-577-2522.
Under a Memorandum of Understanding with Alberta Treasury Board and Finance, the AGLC enforces the Tobacco Tax Act and conducts criminal investigations of contraband smuggling. In 2013-14, provincial revenue from tobacco taxes was $922 million.