Cigarette Smuggling Out of Control
The latest media coverage in the Standard Freeholder concerning the incredible amount of cigarette smuggling through Cornwall and area is both shocking and puzzling, and raises more questions than answers.
We have been told that 90% of illegal cigarettes make it across our border each year, representing 50 million cartons. Cornwall, unwittingly, has become the recipient of these smugglers, who commit crimes as they cross the international border, but our community bears the brunt and the stigma attached to this activity.
My first question is: Do we know exactly where the cigarettes are coming from? RCMP Sgt. Michael Harvey has reported that there are 10 cigarette-making factories in New York state. Do these establishments require permits to set up shop, and if they do, from whom?
With so many shipments coming across the border each day, there must be a few minor traffic jams on Highway 37 in New York, with vehicles loading up with cigarettes each day, and bringing their payload into Canada. Cars are loading cartons of cigarettes in their back seats in full view. You would have to be blind not to notice.
What’s really going on here?
Secondly, with the advanced technology available today, and satellites capability of reading a licence plate from space, listening devices, surveillance cameras, telephone tapping, advanced communications interception, are we led to believe that the police forces have no way of following trucks and cars that fill their vehicles with cigarettes only a few miles from the border, and then cross the river by boat or at the land crossing on Cornwall Island. I find this very hard to swallow.
As Harvey explained in last week’s S-F, existing resources have resulted in stopping 15 loads out of 110, less than 15%. The problem is not with the police at the local level. Where is the Conservative government leadership here? MP Guy Lauzon is always talking about how important ‘law and order’ is to the Conservative party. So, why has the smuggling increased under Lauzon’s watch, so much so that the Conservatives have turned it into a farce?
Meanwhile, lots of smugglers, often young people, are committing criminal acts and are enjoying easy money in a life of crime. An increase in resources would mean that police could use surveillance and advanced technology for what is intended: to track criminal activity and if we did that, I believe that many smugglers would be driven right into the hands of law enforcement.
Finally, one last question must be asked. Who benefits from the status quo? Who is benefiting from the smuggling proceeds now? Bank accounts usually tell the story and no doubt there are millions of dollars being laundered every day from cigarette smuggling.
Use the Internet and follow the money trail to the top.
Admitting defeat to the smugglers is admitting that there is so much corruption in our system, that we are powerless to prevent it. Do you think that is true?
Either the governments lower excessive taxes and eliminate the smuggling that way, or they step up law enforcement efforts to curb cigarette smuggling before violence begins, in which case Cornwall and area would be adversely affected.
We are already looked upon as “the cigarette smuggling capital of Canada.” That reputation really illustrates just how bad the problem is.
Maintaining the status quo is not an option. Cigarette smuggling is out of control.
We need to act now.
(Comments and opinions of Editorials, Letters to the Editor, and comments from readers are purely their own and don’t necessarily reflect those of the owners of the Cornwall Free News, their staff, or sponsors.)
please visit our sponsors: