03/30/2016 13:48 EDT | Updated 03/31/2017 01:12 EDT

Quebec cops bust alleged ring of tobacco smugglers

MONTREAL — Quebec provincial police say about 60 people have been arrested for allegedly belonging to an international ring of contraband tobacco smugglers.

Authorities say they are members of a highly structured criminal organization that has ties to biker gangs as well as to criminal groups in native communities.

About 70 raids were conducted in and around Montreal, on the Montreal-area reserve of Kahnawake and on the Ontario reserve of Six Nations.

Police allege the individuals would buy tobacco in the United States and import it illegally before selling it on the two reserves.

They say they confiscated 52,800 kilograms of tobacco, $1.5 million in Canadian cash, $3 million in U.S. funds, cocaine, methamphetamines, cannabis and fentanyl.

Police estimate the organization has imported more than two million kilograms of tobacco and defrauded authorities of $540 million in revenue.


The Canadian Press