In its first six months of operation, the New Brunswick Department of Justice and Public Safety’s Contraband Enforcement Unit has seized 843,925 illegal cigarettes. 

Justice and Public Safety Minister Denis Landry says the mandate of the Contraband Enforcement Unit is to disrupt the production, distribution and sale of illegal tobacco. Since the unit became operational in April, the nine-person team has conducted covert investigations and provided a uniformed presence throughout the province.

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Between April 1 and Sept. 30, the unit made 17 seizures of illegal cigarettes in numerous communities. Seizures were made with the assistance of policing agencies in Edmundston, Fredericton, Miramichi, Richibucto, Bathurst and Campbellton. Landry says the estimated retail value of cigarettes seized is $506,355.

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The contraband tobacco market is estimated to represent a revenue loss to the province of $13 million annually.

Landry says because manufacturers of illegal tobacco products are not subject to standards or inspections, revenue from the sale of illegal tobacco is often funneled into organized crime.