Thousands of illegal cigarettes seized by Mounties in West Kelowna

Click to play video: 'Contraband cigarette bust in West Kelowna'
Contraband cigarette bust in West Kelowna
Yet another illegal cigarette bust in the Okanagan. This latest one prompted the convenience industry to speak up about the unfair loss in revenue retailers on the legal side of things are having to endure. Victoria Femia reports. – May 2, 2023

Thousands of cartons of illegal cigarettes were stashed in a West Kelowna home until last Saturday when RCMP took them into their possession.

Mounties executed a search warrant at a residence on Webber Road in West Kelowna and during the search officers located 3,031 cartons of illegal cigarettes which equates to 30,310 packs.

Click to play video: 'Illegal cigarette sales hurting B.C. convenience stores'
Illegal cigarette sales hurting B.C. convenience stores

Also seized were four pounds of marijuana, several weapons, cash and money-counting machines.

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“Evidence found at the scene suggests a sophisticated cigarette trafficking operation,” Cpl. Bryan Mulrooney said in a press release.

“In British Columbia, it is illegal to possess or sell cigarettes without a provincial government-issued excise stamp.”

The RCMP is recommending multiple charges against a West Kelowna man but whether that will be enough to deter others remains to be seen.

Sara MacIntyre Western Canada Convenience Industry Council Vice President said tobacco retailers are struggling to stay afloat as these sales carry on seemingly without end and the repercussions are wide-ranging.

“With many of these busts, you’ll see other drugs and often weapons included … it’s not just simply getting cheap cigarettes its actually funding more dangerous and serious crime,” she said.

Macintyre said the convenience industry council has tried several times to sit down with the provincial government to discuss solutions but has been unsuccessful.

“It’s our retailers that are struggling to survive there have been many in the Okanagan that have actually closed their doors because they can’t compete,” she said.

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