WINNIPEG – RCMP say three Winnipeg head shops were raided Wednesday over alleged copyright violations.
At a news conference Thursday officers put on display bongs and other drug-related paraphernalia seized Wednesday.
Police say “investigation revealed that the business was in possession of merchandise that contained images of or replicated copyright protected images. Numerous items were seized in relation to this investigation. Seizures include copyright images belonging to: Angry Bird, Looney Tunes, Hannah-Barbera and Nintendo,” RCMP say in a news release.
“An adult male employee was arrested during the search and is facing charges of possession of a controlled substance (Marijuana) for the purposes of trafficking,” the release also says, noting that the investigation continues under the Copyright Act.
Officers swooped down on three The Joint locations in the city at about 11 a.m. The shops, which sell bongs and other drug-related paraphernalia, are located on St. Mary’s Road, Marion Street and Pembina Highway.
Winnipeg city police also participated in the raids.
The newest location, on St. Mary’s Road, had recently drawn complaints from St. Vital city Coun. Brian Mayes, who said it was a negative influence in the neighbourhood.
“We will let them have their day in court and see what the charges are and proceed from there,” said Brian Mayes, the councillor for St. Vital. “I think some of the local people in the community will be relieved that some action is being taken.”
The store’s owner denied doing anything wrong.
“For us we really try to run things cleanly and responsibly,” Bart Stras told Global News in February.
“There are always going to be people who don’t like us there but they don’t speak their voice directly to us so I mean my whole thought process goes upon people coming in and praising this new store.”
At the St. Mary’s location Wednesday, three people were taken away in handcuffs, it wasn’t clear who they were; officers backed a rented U-Haul truck up to the store and removed large quantities of materials.
Officials from Manitoba taxation were also at the St. Mary’s location. Officers were also at the two other locations.
“As soon as they shut it down someone is going to come up with something else,” said Sam Jacobs, who was hoping to shop at The St. Mary’s location but was turned away by police.
“One of our concerns is there is a lot of young students, probably underaged frequenting there,” said Lori Stephen-James, a dentist who works next door to the St. Mary’s location.
It’s not clear what prompted the raids, or what charges anyone may be facing. A source tells Global News charges could be laid related to copyright infringement and the sale of drug paraphernalia but police have not confirmed this.