Four Edmonton convenience store owners charged with illegal tobacco sales: EPS

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City police and the Alberta Gaming Liquor and Cannibis have charged four people after $25.000 in illegal tobacco was found at four convenience stores in Edmonton.

In January, northeast patrol officers began an investigation into the sale of illicit tobacco occurring at convenience stores in the 118 Avenue area after hearing concerns other business owners in the area, said police in a Friday afternoon release.

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Contraband tobacco is any tobacco product that does not comply with federal and provincial laws related to importation, marking, manufacturing, stamping and payment of duties and taxes.

In February, with the help of the AGLC’s tobacco enforcement unit, police confirmed contraband tobacco was being sold at 7 Days Convenience (118 Avenue and 41 Street), the Classic Corner (118 Avenue and 46 Street), Classic Mini Mart at (118 Avenue and 87 Street) and the Sihem Market (118 Avenue and 79 Street).

On Feb. 9, police executed a search warrant at all four stores and seized 399 cartons of cigarettes, 142 individual packs of cigarettes, 120 cigars and seven boxes of loose tobacco.

In total, $24,810 of contraband tobacco was seized, equalling more than $27,000 in tax avoidance.

“In addition to the public health and safety risks due to the lack of regulatory controls and inspections oversight, contraband tobacco also negatively impacts the dollars that go towards everyday projects and services Albertans rely on. AGLC will continue to work with our law enforcement partners throughout Alberta to combat illicit tobacco,” Gary Peck, AGLC’s vice-president of regulatory services, said in a release.

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Three owners of 7 Days Convenience — Million Tewelde, 25, Ermias Gebrehiwet, 36, and Biniyam Adhanom, 34 — were charged with trafficking contraband tobacco and fraud under $5,000.

Semhar Kafil, 33, owner of Classic Corner and Classic Mini Mart, was charged with trafficking contraband tobacco and fraud over $5,000.

The owner of Sihem Market was issued a violation ticket under the Tobacco Tax Act.

“Local businesses play a significant role in community safety and security, and they are often the first to notice suspicious activity,” said Const. Justin Marleau of the EPS northeast branch. in a release.

“In this case, the business community helped identify widespread illicit tobacco sales that were negatively affecting the area.”

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