Montreal Police targeting contraband alcohol and tobacco

October 15, 2016
MONTREAL - The Montreal police will renew two programs that give the department a financial incentive to crack down on contraband tobacco and alcohol and follow the moneylaundering trail of criminal organizations in the city.

Oct 05 2016

MONTREAL - The Montreal police will renew two programs that give the department a financial incentive to crack down on contraband tobacco and alcohol and follow the moneylaundering trail of criminal organizations in the city.

Montreal's city executive committee gave its approval on Wednesday for the police to renew both programs with the province retroactively from April 1 of this year to March 31, 2017.

It's the ninth consecutive year the police force is renewing one of the programs, known as Actions concertées contre les crimes économiques et financiers.

Under ACCEF, a Montreal police unit specialized in proceeds of crime works with Revenue Quebec to investigate money laundering and tax evasion related to the underground economy.

The program has allowed authorities to "drastically increase" the seizure of illicitly obtained assets, a report to the executive committee from the Montreal police says. The department's $2.4-million budget for ACCEF this year, which includes the salaries of 12 officers and a civilian employee, is fully subsidized by the province.

Over $6 million in cash alone was seized or forfeited under ACCEF in Montreal in 2015-2016, down from over $10 million the previous year, the report says. The bounty peaked at $12.3 million in 2012-2013.

A Quebec government decree permits the Montreal police to keep half of confiscated assets, the report says.

"The renewal of the ACCEF program is paramount in the fight against organized crime," it says. "The purpose of the program is to detect and suppress in a concerted manner all economic and financial crimes committed by criminal organizations."

The second program, known as Actions concertées pour contrer les économies souterraines (ACCES), targets contraband tobacco and alcohol and has existed in some form since 1996. This year, the Montreal police are contributing 33 police officers and two civilian employees, who work with the Sûreté du Québec, RCMP, the Régie des alcools des courses et des jeux and other agencies.

Montreal's $5.7-million budget for ACCES is fully subsidized by the province.

One recent ACCES operation was Project Malbec, which in May 2015 broke up a ring that allegedly bought cheap wine in Europe, repackaged it and sold it illegally in Quebec and parts of Ontario. The police said they had evidence the network had sold more than 1.8 million bottles of wine, which deprived the provincial and federal governments of more than $14 million in revenue, including taxes. (Montreal Gazette)

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