News Release

$5.3 million in contraband retail tobacco products seized by AGLC

Alberta Gaming, Liquor and Cannabis (AGLC) Tobacco Enforcement Unit recently seized $5.3 million in contraband retail tobacco products, including an estimated 5.7 million contraband cigarettes (28,000 cartons) and 93.2 kg in contraband shisha. The total potential lost tax revenue is estimated to be $1.7 million.

A month-long investigation resulted in search warrants executed at two Edmonton based warehouses.  The investigation is still ongoing and charges are pending.

In a ten-month period, AGLC has seized an estimated $33.5 million in contraband cigarettes and 208 kg of contraband shisha in multiple investigations throughout the province by Alberta Gaming, Liquor & Cannabis (AGLC) Tobacco Enforcement Unit. The total potential lost tax revenue is estimated to be more than $12.8 million. 

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;
  • comes from four main sources: illegal manufacturers, counterfeits, tax-exempt diversions and resale of stolen legal tobacco; and
  • can be recognized by the absence of a red (Alberta) or peach/light tan (Canada) stamp bearing the "DUTY PAID CANADA DROIT ACQUITTÉ" on packages of cigarettes and cigars or pouches of tobacco.

In addition to lost revenues that may otherwise benefit Albertans, illegally manufactured products also pose public health and safety risks as they lack regulatory controls and inspections oversight.

Albertans who suspect illegal tobacco production, packaging and/or trafficking are encouraged to contact AGLC's Tobacco Enforcement Unit at 1-800-577-2522 or Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-TIPS (8477).

Under a Memorandum of Understanding with Alberta Treasury Board and Finance, AGLC enforces the Tobacco Tax Act and conducts criminal investigations related to the possession, distribution and trafficking of contraband tobacco products. In 2022-23, provincial revenue from tobacco taxes was approximately $522 million.


Seized contraband tobacco photo

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