Huge strike against the illegal tobacco

News 22 March, 2018
  • Courtesy
    Crates of tobacco seized in the investigation called Olios.

    Frederique Giguere

    Thursday, 22 march, 2018 01:00

    Thursday, 22 march, 2018 01:00

    Look at this article

    A network of smugglers of tobacco of which the goods were routed over more than 3000 km across Canada and the United States and that allowed the Italian mafia to put on the pockets was dismantled yesterday by the Sûreté du Québec.

    A dozen strikes simultaneous were carried out at dawn yesterday in Montreal, on the North Shore and Ontario. It was the last step of the operation Olios, which began 18 months ago.

    Photo Chantal Poirier

    Heavy weights that would have been used for smuggling were seized yesterday by the Sûreté du Québec.

    The mafia will be thereby deprived of a significant source of income, considering that it has bagged $ 7.3 million in less than two years thanks to this broad scheme. This represents a fraud of $ 208 million for the two levels of government, according to the provincial police.

    In total, 14 people suspected of being involved in this fraud have been arrested yesterday morning. Among them, we find the alleged leader of the network, Domenico Agostino, as well as his accomplice Domenico Cocullo.

    Photo Chantal Poirier

    Domenico Cocullo, 39 years old, would be the close accomplice of the leader of the network .

    The men of 48 and 39 are relatives of the Italian mafia, more specifically the clan calabrian, according to our information.

    They are the ones that would have ensured the bridge between the carrier of tobacco, is the company’s OSB Transport, based in Notre-Dame-de-Lourdes, near Joliette, and the mafia. Several vehicles belonging to the company were seized during the searches yesterday morning.

    A long journey

    With the evidence collected so far, investigators have been able to trace the journey of more than 3000 kilometers set by fraudsters in order to bring enormous quantities of contraband tobacco in Quebec.

    To get there, Domenico Agostino and his right arm would have first approached OSB Transport, which has the licences for performing of the transport in bulk in the United States.

    An agreement would have been concluded in order that the drivers would make their way to North Carolina to pick tobacco.

    Photo Chantal Poirier

    “With respect to contraband tobacco, the North Carolina, this is about the same as Colombia with cocaine, shows the lieutenant Dany Dufour, head of the department of investigations-crime against the State to the Sûreté du Québec [SQ]. This is really the place. “

    The loads were then reduced in plants transformation of tobacco from Kahnawake, a reservation near Châteauguay.

    More refined

    According to lieutenant Dufour, the schemes in terms of contraband tobacco were considerably refined in recent years.

    In the hope of muddying the waters, the organized crime tries to extend its tentacles on land wider and wider. And they are willing to put in the necessary effort, since the importation of illegal tobacco is eight times more profitable than cocaine, ensures the lieutenant Dufour.

    Photo courtesy

    A cargo of tobacco from the United States.

    In spite of a cunning, well-planned, close collaboration between the SQ, the Ontario provincial police, the canada border services Agency and the department of homeland Security of the United States (Homeland security) has allowed the authorities to dismantle the network.

    A journey of 3000 km

    1 – Notre-Dame-de-Lourdes : A trucker takes to the road with a cargo legal.

    2 – New York : The content of the trailer is delivered to the customer.

    3 – North Carolina : We reload the trailer, but this time with contraband tobacco.

    4 – Buffalo : a Few kilometers before arriving, the truck driver quebec exchange its trailer with that of a counterpart in ontario, which holds the status of an “accustomed” to the customs of Buffalo. The Québécois, who are more at risk of being questioned, crossing with a loaded trailer legally, while Ontario leads the tobacco on the canadian territory.

    5 – Kahnawake : final Destination of the tobacco, where it will be prepared for the contraband market in a factory.

    The operation Olios in figures

    • + 48 cargoes imported
    • 744 000 pounds of tobacco
    • 150 police officers participated in the operation
    • 18 searches (9 residences/businesses, 9 vehicles)
    • 14 people met