Fines totaling nearly $5 million have been imposed on four people and three transport companies from Quebec and Ontario for their involvement in a tobacco smuggling ring, Revenu Québec announced Thursday.

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The leader of this network, James Douglas Shanks, of Cornwall, Ontario, was fined $2 million, in addition to a 12-month prison sentence.

The suspects and the transport companies were recently found guilty of tobacco smuggling offenses following an extensive investigation by the Sûreté du Québec.

They were accused in particular of having “transported raw tobacco without a permit” and of having “transported raw tobacco without having possessed a manifesto”.

During the investigation, the police seized tens of thousands of kilograms of illegal tobacco.

Two searches carried out just five days apart in the fall of 2018 notably led to the seizure of nearly 30 tonnes of raw tobacco in heavy truck trailers.

The investigation resulted in the arrest of four suspects, including two Quebecers. Derek Denis, 57, of Kanesatake and Willard Richardson, 65, of Saint-Alphonse-de-Granby, were fined $76,317 and $44,571 respectively.

The companies Transport Crazy Horse, based in Kanesatake, will have to pay a fine of nearly $800,000, while the company Transport Flatliner of Dollard-des-Ormeaux gets away with a fine of $32,000.

Another Ontario transportation company and a 62-year-old Ontario man are sharing fines totaling just over $2 million.

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