Ilegal cigarette trade subject of BC Crimestoppers training conference

Click to play video: 'Crime Stoppers focuses on contraband cigarettes'
Crime Stoppers focuses on contraband cigarettes
Ilegal cigarette trade subject of BC Crimestoppers training conference – May 11, 2023

BC Crimestoppers hosted its annual training conference in Kelowna this weekend for its personnel.

This year, the focus was on contraband cigarettes, something convenience store operators says are reducing the sale of legal cigarettes by between 30 and 40 per cent.

According to the province, in 2019 over five-million illegal cigarettes were seized during an undercover investigation, conducted with local law enforcement agencies.

During the operation, approximately 3.6-million cigarettes were seized in Surrey, 1,6 in Vancouver and 82-thousand in Kelowna.

“To organized crime the commodity is somewhat irrelevant, tobacco, drugs, guns they don’t really care,” said Danny Fournier, manager of Illicit Trade Prevention at Rothmans, Benson and Hedges.

Click to play video: 'Contraband cigarette bust in West Kelowna'
Contraband cigarette bust in West Kelowna

Fournier adds that the problem is not the illegal cigarettes, it’s the violence that he says always comes with organized crime.

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Crimestoppers role in this problem is informing people about the problem and finding ways to avoid it.

“That’s our role, to educate the public on the reach of organized crime in the community, to encourage people to help fight crime,” said Weldon LeBlanc, BC Crimestoppers executive director.

To report the sale of contraband cigarettes, anyone can call Crimestoppers and leave an anonymous tip or do it online.

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