Smug­glers ‘dis­placed’

The Glengarry News - - Front Page - BY SCOTT CARMICHAEL News Staff

Although he ad­mits the prob­lem hasn’t been erad­i­cated, the out­go­ing Corn­wall Re­gional Task Force (CRTF) com­man­der feels the agency has made in­roads in cur­tail­ing smug­gling in the area since it was re­born five years ago.

“When it was res­ur­rected back in 2010, there were nu­mer­ous com­plaints to the OPP about sus­pected smug­glers tres­pass­ing on peo­ple’s docks and on prop­er­ties on High­way 2. And since then, the OPP re­ceives very min­i­mal com­plaints about things like that,” RCMP Insp. Tim Kim­pan, who is re­tir­ing in mid-March af­ter a 33year law en­force­ment ca­reer, told The News last week. “We have suc­ceeded, over the past five years, in dis­place­ment. I wouldn’t say that we’ve elim­i­nated smug­gling... but, for our ter­ri­tory, at least, things seem to have been cor­rected a bit.”

Insp. Kim­pan added that smug­gling in neigh­bour­ing Québec “seems to have in­creased” due to CRTF ef­forts in and around Corn­wall and South Glen­garry that have forced smug­glers to con­duct their il­licit trade fur­ther east­ward.

The CRTF, a part­ner­ship that in­cludes the Royal Cana­dian Mounted Po­lice, Canada Bor­der Ser­vices Agency (CBSA), On­tario Pro­vin­cial Po­lice (OPP), the Corn­wall Com­mu­nity Po­lice Ser­vice (CCPS), Ak­we­sasne Mo­hawk Po­lice Ser­vice (AMPS) and the On­tario Min­istry of Fi­nance, was re­sus­ci­tated in April 2010 to ad­dress an in­ten­si­fi­ca­tion of con­tra­band to­bacco smug­gling and a surge in re­lated pub­lic safety is­sues and res­i­den­tial prop­erty con­cerns in Corn­wall and South Glen­garry.

Ac­cord­ing to RCMP sta­tis­tics at that time, 240,000 car­tons of smug­gled cig­a­rettes were cross­ing into Canada through the Sea­way City and nearby lo­cales each day, with just over 100,000 of those com­ing by boat and 137,500 be­ing smug­gled by mo­tor ve­hi­cle.

Insp. Kim­pan was asked if these num­bers have dropped since then. “I wouldn’t say that they have de­creased. It’s just that they’re go­ing some­where else (fur­ther east),” he said.

“We seem to be seiz­ing more fine-cut to­bacco now than cig­a­rettes. I’m think­ing that (pro­duc- ers in) Kah­nawake are look­ing for some to­bacco to man­u­fac­ture cig­a­rettes, as op­posed to hav­ing the man­u­fac­tur­ers mak­ing them and then smug­gling and dis­tribut­ing them here.”

The task force was cre­ated in 1993 when high taxes on to­bacco led to a pe­riod of con­tra­band smug­gling and re­lated vi­o­lence that prompted former Corn­wall mayor Ron Martelle, whose life was al­legedly threat­ened by smug­glers on sev­eral oc­ca­sions, to re­fer to Corn­wall as “Dodge City” in an in­ter­view with The New York Times.

At that time, the OPP es­ti­mated that 50,000 car­tons of il­le­gal cig­a­rettes were be­ing smug­gled into Canada each day near and in Corn­wall.

The prob­lem sub­sided af­ter both se­nior lev­els of govern­ment low­ered to­bacco taxes in 1996, de­creas­ing the de­mand for il­le­gal cig­a­rettes and con­se­quently, the vol­ume of con­tra­band.

That led to the dis­band­ment of the CRTF in 2000. How­ever, a decade later, the prob­lem had resur­faced, with the de­mand for il­le­gal smokes at an all-time high, lead­ing to the re­sump­tion of the task force in April 2010.

Insp. Kim­pan feels the or­ga­ni­za­tion has done an ad­mirable job since its re­turn five years ago.

“I would say that the CRTF has had a sig­nif­i­cant im­pact, and not only with to­bacco,” he said.

“There are other crimes in our area too, like hu­man smug­gling, which are, with our Amer­i­can part­ners, be­ing looked at. So it’s not only about cig­a­rettes. There are other com­modi­ties too that are of great im­por­tance in our man­date.”

He added that the pub­lic’s par­tic­i­pa­tion has been es­sen­tial to the CRTF’s suc­cess.

Help from pub­lic is vi­tal

“We don’t get as much (par­tic­i­pa­tion) as we’d like, but what we get has def­i­nitely helped,” ex­plained Insp. Kim­pan.

“Re­ceiv­ing in­tel and in­for­ma­tion helps us fo­cus on our en­force­ment strat­egy. “For ex­am­ple, if peo­ple call us and say, ‘Well, I see a lot of snowmobile­s these days, out on the ice, pulling sleds across the (St. Lawrence) river at night with no lights, and these are the times and places where we see them...’ then we will go set up in those ar­eas, and some­times we’re fruit­ful.”

As for the 62-year-old – whose ca­reer has in­cluded post­ings at the Moun­ties’ Ottawa Na­tional Head­quar­ters, Kirk­land Lake and Sud­bury, a peace­keep­ing stint in Haiti and a four-year sec­ond­ment with the OPP Biker En­force­ment Unit – is look­ing for­ward to his re­tire­ment. “I am leav­ing happy and healthy af­ter a ful­fill­ing and chal­leng­ing ca­reer with the force,” he said.

His re­place­ment has yet to be an­nounced.

FEEL­ING HEAT: Feel­ing the heat from in­ten­si­fied en­force­ment in On­tario, some smug­glers have shifted their il­le­gal busi­ness to Québec.


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