The Vancouver Province reports that contraband cigarettes sold by Ontario natives and smuggled into B.C. have started turning up in Vancouver stores. The discount Mohawk brand called DK’s sell for $4.50 a pack under the counter, more than $2 less than comparable over-the-counter cigarettes. Although legally manufactured on Akwasasne Mohawk territory, DK’s are illegal to sell in B.C.
Police and cigarette manufacturers warned about the potential for increased smuggling into B.C. after the provincial government’s decision earlier this year to increase taxes on cartons of smokes by $8. A carton now costs $62 — the fourth-highest in Canada. By comparison, a carton of Ontario smokes costs $11.80 less.
DK’s cigarettes come wrapped in a gold seal, whereas smokes that are legal for sale in B.C. should have a green wrapper indicating that the excise tax has been paid. But the lower price makes many consider the purchase worth the risk.
The Akwasasne Mohawk territory straddles the U.S.-Canada border and has long been dubbed a smuggler’s haven by authorities concerned about the movement of people, drugs, booze and cigarettes between the U.S. and Canada. Vipond said police in B.C. have an ongoing investigation into DK’s smuggling.