The main proponent of provactive smoke shops selling untaxed tobacco faces a laundry list of charges, police said today, about a week after their latest raid.
The Brandon Sun has previously reported that Craig Blacksmith's shop was raided, but details of the bust were made public in a release by police Thursday around noon.
They say two Quebec men will face charges after making a delivery to a smoke shop on the Dakota Plains First Nation, southwest of Portage la Prairie. An employee of the shop was also arrested and charged, as was Blacksmith, the shop's owner.
From the shop, police seized 4,800 cartons of cigarettes, three firearms and a vehicle.
They also raided a storage locker rented by Blacksmith, where they seized two more cases of tobacco and three more guns.
In total, police say they seized 951,225 cigarettes, 1,845 tins of chewing tobacco, six guns, cash and the vehicle.
The tobacco hadn't been taxed by Manitoba authorities, and there was a total owing of $292,572.68. Police say that if convicted of the provincial charges, each of the accused could face a tax penalty of triple the amount avoided — which would be $877,718.04.
The raid saw Portage la Prairie RCMP join forces with the Daokta Ojibway Police Service, Manitoba Finance and the RCMP Serious and Organized Crime unit.
Blacksmith, 51, faces nearly two dozen charges related to tax-avoidance on tobacco and firearm possession and storage. He's been released on a promise to appear in Winnipeg court on May 12.
Last week, Blacksmith seemed confident in an interview with the Sun.
"It’s going to come down to jurisdiction,"he said. "This is a completely different set of circumstances. The previous arrests were all off the reserve and this one was on the reserve, so now apparently they think they have jurisdiction on the reserves."
The two alleged cigarette deliverymen, Matthew Audi, 26, and Christopher Wilkins, 30, face charges related to untaxed tobacco as well as possession of property obtained by crime. They, too, have been released but are to appear in court on May 12.
The employee of the shop, 42-year-old Tammy Walters, faces about half a dozen tobacco-related charges. She, too, will appear in court on May 12.