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B.C. police make ‘largest one-time seizure of contraband cigarettes’ amid organized crime probe

Four suspects have been arrested and released from custody amid a months-long investigation into the trafficking of drugs and contraband tobacco in British Columbia.

The province’s anti-gang task force, the Combined Forces Special Enforcement Unit, executed seven search warrants late last month on properties in Abbotsford, Langley, Surrey and Victoria, the unit said in a news release Tuesday.

Investigators seized a nine vehicles – including a speedboat and a stolen Porsche Cayenne – as well as nearly three dozen guns, a large quantity of ammunition, 35 pallets of contraband cigarettes, a half-kilogram of cocaine and 80 kilograms of cannabis.

The CFSEU estimates the retail value of the cigarettes at approximately $11 million.

Police also confiscated a hydraulic cocaine press, 10 pallets of contraband liquor and body armour, according to the release.

The investigation began in August 2023, when investigators obtained information about an alleged drug and contraband tobacco trafficking network.

Police say the investigation quickly broadened into multiple jurisdictions around B.C.’s Lower Mainland and southern Vancouver Island, involving suspects believed to be connected to organized crime.

“Organized crime groups support their criminal enterprise in various ways, including by dealing in illicit commodities,” Sgt. Brenda Winpenny said in the release.

“This investigation resulted in the largest one-time seizure of contraband cigarettes in B.C. and speaks to CFSEU-BC’s dedication to fulfilling its mandate to disrupt and support the prosecution of those gang-involved individuals who impact public safety and seek to make profits off of illegal commodities,” she added.

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