Employee And Owner Of Manitoba First Nation Smoke Shop Fined More Than $2 Million

RCMP and Dakota Ojibway Police Service officers seized these boxes of cigarettes, as well as chewing tobacco, firearms and other items, during a raid at a smoke shop at the Dakota Plains First Nation in January 2014. (RCMP)

RCMP and Dakota Ojibway Police Service officers seized these boxes of cigarettes, as well as chewing tobacco, firearms and other items, during a raid at a smoke shop at the Dakota Plains First Nation in January 2014. (RCMP)

By Red Power Media, Staff, June 17, 2016 

Two people were convicted yesterday of various offences under the Tobacco Tax and other acts.

According to CBC News, the owner of a First Nations smoke shop in Manitoba, along with an employee, faced more than $2 million in fines and penalties after untaxed cigarettes were seized two years ago.

Craig Blacksmith, who owned the smoke shop at the Dakota Plains First Nation, and employee Tammy Walters were convicted on Thursday of numerous offences under the provincial Tobacco Tax Act and Tax Administration and Miscellaneous Taxes Act.

In 2014, RCMP raided a smoke shop and seized almost a million non-marked cigarettes, close to 2000 tins of chewing tobacco, six guns, cash and a vehicle.

Global News reports, Blacksmith faced two charges of possessing and selling non-Manitoba marked cigarettes and possessing and selling other tobacco products under the provincial legislation. He was fined $8,500 and was assessed tax penalties totalling $1,159,845.60.

Walters faced similar charges and was fined a total of $6,500 and was assessed tax penalties totalling $868,009.20.

Each was given 10 years to pay the fines and penalties.

It’s not the first time Blacksmith has defied provincial authorities on the issue of tobacco sales.

In 2012, he was involved in the case of the Dakota Chundee Smoke Shop in southwestern Manitoba. A number of people were charged for selling untaxed cigarettes without a licence.

The Dakota Chundee shop, which was run by eight First Nations on off-reserve land near Pipestone, Man., had been raided numerous times by authorities from the time it opened in 2011.

Blacksmith has said the First Nations smoke shops are not beholden to provincial law and therefore have the right to sell tobacco from Quebec for half the price of a legal carton in Manitoba.

In the latest case, Blacksmith and Walters were charged in connection with Project Debit, a joint police and Manitoba Finance investigation of contraband tobacco sales.

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