First Nations groups criticize Project Mygale tobacco smuggling bust

News Apr 08, 2016 The Hamilton Spectator

The Mohawk Council of Kahnawake and the Elected Council of Six Nations of the Grand River say the recent tobacco smuggling bust, Project Mygale, led by the Quebec provincial police is an infringement on aboriginal rights.

"It's disheartening to read statements, like the one recently issued in the Mygale project, attempting to criminalize our tobacco industry," Six Nations Chief Ava Hill said in a statement.

"Tobacco is a historical trade that supports the growth and economic prosperity of our communities. As sovereign nations, the federal and provincial governments have no jurisdictional right to tax and regulate tobacco on our territories."

Hill could not be reached Thursday to elaborate on her comments. A spokesperson for the Sûreté du Québec would not comment on the statement.

A 38-year-old Ohsweken man is wanted on fraud-related charges for allegedly being one of 21 main players of a criminal organization with links to biker gangs and organized crime that extended to the United States, South America and Europe.

He was on holidays out of the country when the bust took place last week, and remains outside of Canada, a spokesperson for the Sûreté du Québec says.

Two million kilograms of tobacco were bought in North Carolina and illegally imported in trucks at the Lacolle, Que., Lansdowne, Ont. and Fort Erie border crossings between August 2014 and March 2016. The tobacco was processed mostly on reserves, police say.

The statement from the two First Nations organizations argued that "tobacco is not an illegal activity" and "any attempt to regulate or restrict a First Nation from manufacturing and participating in inter-nation trade within the tobacco industry is an attack on this inherent indigenous right."

It went on to say, "operations, like the recent Mygale project, often lump the legal manufacturing and trade of tobacco by indigenous people with organized crime activities. This is not only incorrect, but highly misleading. Both Kahnawake and Six Nations have deemed organized crime, and criminal activities to be illegal within their territories. Both Iroquois communities co-operate with neighbouring law enforcement bodies on investigations relating to illegal activities occurring within their nations."

But Gary Grant, national spokesperson for National Coalition against Contraband Tobacco, said "When huge quantities of cigarettes are made in illegal factories, that are not operating under any type of agreement and you are dealing with organized crime, those kinds of statements are not to be taken seriously."

First Nations groups criticize Project Mygale tobacco smuggling bust

News Apr 08, 2016 The Hamilton Spectator

The Mohawk Council of Kahnawake and the Elected Council of Six Nations of the Grand River say the recent tobacco smuggling bust, Project Mygale, led by the Quebec provincial police is an infringement on aboriginal rights.

"It's disheartening to read statements, like the one recently issued in the Mygale project, attempting to criminalize our tobacco industry," Six Nations Chief Ava Hill said in a statement.

"Tobacco is a historical trade that supports the growth and economic prosperity of our communities. As sovereign nations, the federal and provincial governments have no jurisdictional right to tax and regulate tobacco on our territories."

Hill could not be reached Thursday to elaborate on her comments. A spokesperson for the Sûreté du Québec would not comment on the statement.

A 38-year-old Ohsweken man is wanted on fraud-related charges for allegedly being one of 21 main players of a criminal organization with links to biker gangs and organized crime that extended to the United States, South America and Europe.

He was on holidays out of the country when the bust took place last week, and remains outside of Canada, a spokesperson for the Sûreté du Québec says.

Two million kilograms of tobacco were bought in North Carolina and illegally imported in trucks at the Lacolle, Que., Lansdowne, Ont. and Fort Erie border crossings between August 2014 and March 2016. The tobacco was processed mostly on reserves, police say.

The statement from the two First Nations organizations argued that "tobacco is not an illegal activity" and "any attempt to regulate or restrict a First Nation from manufacturing and participating in inter-nation trade within the tobacco industry is an attack on this inherent indigenous right."

It went on to say, "operations, like the recent Mygale project, often lump the legal manufacturing and trade of tobacco by indigenous people with organized crime activities. This is not only incorrect, but highly misleading. Both Kahnawake and Six Nations have deemed organized crime, and criminal activities to be illegal within their territories. Both Iroquois communities co-operate with neighbouring law enforcement bodies on investigations relating to illegal activities occurring within their nations."

But Gary Grant, national spokesperson for National Coalition against Contraband Tobacco, said "When huge quantities of cigarettes are made in illegal factories, that are not operating under any type of agreement and you are dealing with organized crime, those kinds of statements are not to be taken seriously."

First Nations groups criticize Project Mygale tobacco smuggling bust

News Apr 08, 2016 The Hamilton Spectator

The Mohawk Council of Kahnawake and the Elected Council of Six Nations of the Grand River say the recent tobacco smuggling bust, Project Mygale, led by the Quebec provincial police is an infringement on aboriginal rights.

"It's disheartening to read statements, like the one recently issued in the Mygale project, attempting to criminalize our tobacco industry," Six Nations Chief Ava Hill said in a statement.

"Tobacco is a historical trade that supports the growth and economic prosperity of our communities. As sovereign nations, the federal and provincial governments have no jurisdictional right to tax and regulate tobacco on our territories."

Hill could not be reached Thursday to elaborate on her comments. A spokesperson for the Sûreté du Québec would not comment on the statement.

A 38-year-old Ohsweken man is wanted on fraud-related charges for allegedly being one of 21 main players of a criminal organization with links to biker gangs and organized crime that extended to the United States, South America and Europe.

He was on holidays out of the country when the bust took place last week, and remains outside of Canada, a spokesperson for the Sûreté du Québec says.

Two million kilograms of tobacco were bought in North Carolina and illegally imported in trucks at the Lacolle, Que., Lansdowne, Ont. and Fort Erie border crossings between August 2014 and March 2016. The tobacco was processed mostly on reserves, police say.

The statement from the two First Nations organizations argued that "tobacco is not an illegal activity" and "any attempt to regulate or restrict a First Nation from manufacturing and participating in inter-nation trade within the tobacco industry is an attack on this inherent indigenous right."

It went on to say, "operations, like the recent Mygale project, often lump the legal manufacturing and trade of tobacco by indigenous people with organized crime activities. This is not only incorrect, but highly misleading. Both Kahnawake and Six Nations have deemed organized crime, and criminal activities to be illegal within their territories. Both Iroquois communities co-operate with neighbouring law enforcement bodies on investigations relating to illegal activities occurring within their nations."

But Gary Grant, national spokesperson for National Coalition against Contraband Tobacco, said "When huge quantities of cigarettes are made in illegal factories, that are not operating under any type of agreement and you are dealing with organized crime, those kinds of statements are not to be taken seriously."