Investigators with Ontario Provincial Police have charged 16 people with a total of 218 charges in connection to a Canada-wide, multi-police force probe into the illegal manufacturing and distribution of contraband tobacco and illicit drugs.
The investigation, known as Project Cairnes, took off in July 2018 when the OPP Contraband Tobacco Enforcement Team began an investigation into the trafficking of contraband tobacco from a manufacturing facility operated on a Six Nations Territory.
The investigation revealed the tobacco was being assembled into contraband cigarettes at this facility, which would then be trafficked throughout parts of Ontario and Canada, including British Columbia, where it was sold on the street, police said.
The accused are closely associated with members of traditional organized crime and other organized crime groups.
Investigators also uncovered drug trafficking networks that were responsible for large shipments of illicit cannabis on a weekly basis from British Columbia to Ontario.
The manufacturing facility, although located on Six Nations Territory, was operated by an organized crime group from the Greater Toronto Area, and is unregulated and illegal, police said.
Residents of the Six Nations Territory have not seen any investment into their communities from the profits of this illegal operation, and “it has in no way benefited the community”, police said.