Feds beef up fight against contraband smokes
OTTAWA - The federal government is creating a new anti-contraband police task force to combat illegal tobacco sales.
It has also introduced legislation to impose minimum sentences for those caught trafficking in smuggled smokes.
Public Safety Minister Vic Toews says a new 50-officer RCMP unit will target contraband tobacco smugglers.
Toews says organized criminal gangs benefit from illegal tobacco sales, but Canadians pay the price through higher health care costs.
Legislation introduced in the Senate would create a new Criminal Code offence for trafficking in contraband.
If the bill becomes law, penalties would range from six months behind bars for a first offence to five years in jail for committing an indictable offence.
Repeat offenders would also receive mandatory minimum penalties of between 90 and 180 days incarceration when high volumes of illegal tobacco products are involved.