A smuggler's story
Police say they're making progress in the smuggled smokes trade in eastern Ontario.
CTV News spoke to a former smuggler who was arrested, lost his car and stands to lose a lot of money in court fines for his role in trading contraband cigarettes.
Police say the tobacco comes to Canada from the U.S. and is manufactured at plants on the Akwesasne territory in New York.
To avoid border guards, the illegal cigarettes are carried by boat across the St. Lawrence River to Mohawk territory in Quebec and eastern Ontario.
Once the smokes enter Canada, boxes of cigarettes are delivered by car into Cornwall, Ont. and other major Canadian cities.
"You go to a certain location either there or you go to another place to fill (the car) up," John, a former smuggler, told CTV News.
Now that John's been arrested, he says the charges against him may be the least of his worries. He says the smugglers he dealt with are dangerous people, something he was unaware of when he first got involved in illegal trade.
"I didn't really know (who I was dealing with) to the certain extent that I do now," said John.
Police say fear of smuggling masterminds often keeps smugglers from talking about the illegal schemes.
"They're taking desperate measures to try and make money doing organized crime," said RCMP Sgt. Michael Harvey.
The answer to end the illegal trade, however, remains unknown.
"Would lowering taxes solve the problem? Probably not," federal crown attorney Ron Turgeon told CTV News.
Although Turgeon has won many court cases and slapped many criminals with hefty fines, he says those fines aren't always paid.
"How do these individuals pay for these fines?" Turgeon asks.
Turgeon says ordinarily some payments are made until individuals get picked up again and then payments stop.
In John's case, he says he thinks he'll be able to pay his fine - but not anytime soon.
"I'll be about 50 years old by the time I'm done. It's a big fine. It's like having a house and not living in it," he said.
With a report from CTV's Catherine Lathem