An investigation by Alberta Gaming, Liquor & Cannabis (AGLC) led to the seizure of an estimated $4.5 million dollars of contraband tobacco. The seizure represents one of the largest recorded in Alberta history. The total potential lost tax revenue is estimated to be more than $2.5 million dollars.
A search warrant was executed in partnership with Calgary Police Service and the RCMP at a storage facility in southeast Calgary. Ali Al-Hameedawi of Red Deer and Husham Hakeem of Calgary were each charged with trafficking in contraband tobacco, contrary to section 121.1 of the Criminal Code of Canada and fraud over $5,000. The accused are scheduled to appear in Calgary Provincial Court on August 26, 2021.
- is any tobacco product that does not comply with federal and provincial laws related to importation, marking, manufacturing, stamping and payment of duties and taxes;
- comes from four main sources: illegal manufacturers, counterfeits, tax-exempt diversions and resale of stolen legal tobacco; and
- can be recognized by the absence of a red (Alberta) or peach/light tan (Canada) stamp bearing the “DUTY PAID CANADA DROIT ACQUITTÉ” on packages of cigarettes and cigars or pouches of tobacco.
In addition to lost revenues that may otherwise benefit Albertans, illegally manufactured products also pose public health and safety risks as they lack regulatory controls and inspections oversight.
All wholesalers and importers of tobacco into Alberta must be licensed to sell or import tobacco for resale. Furthermore, all tobacco products must be labelled according to federal and provincial regulations. Albertans who suspect illegal tobacco production, packaging and/or trafficking are encouraged to contact AGLC’s Tobacco Enforcement Unit at 1-800-577-2522.
Under a Memorandum of Understanding with Alberta Treasury Board and Finance, AGLC enforces the Tobacco Tax Act and conducts criminal investigations related to the possession, distribution and trafficking of contraband tobacco products. In 2020-21, provincial revenue from tobacco taxes was $755 million.