NASCAR driver Derek White was among those targeted on Wednesday during a big tobacco-smuggling bust conducted by the Quebec and Ontario police. It is said to be the biggest police operation of its kind in North American history.
White is a Native American member of the Mohawk tribe, which resides in Kahnawake near Montreal. On Wednesday, Kahnawake’s chief peacekeeper, Dwayne Zacharie, said he was contacted by investigators from the Quebec police force to inform him that they had arrest warrants for three members of the tribe including White. Following this, Zacharie said his office contacted the three suspects and told them to contact Quebec police. According to a report from NBC, White turned himself in.
According to a report from Bloomberg, the tobacco-smuggling bust targeted 60 people, including NASCAR driver White. Moreover, White was said to have been named one of the top-ranking members of the illegal tobacco operation.
According to Quebec provincial police spokesman Lieutenant Jason Allard, the tobacco operation involved shipments of tobacco leaf in North Carolina being resold in Canada. The profits from these sales were then used to purchase cocaine while some of the earnings were laundered in Europe.
In addition, these tobacco shipments were said to have been left undeclared at the border to avoid taxes. According to the police, Quebec and Canadian governments were deprived of about $409 million in taxes due to the smuggling operations. This also meant that cigarettes were sold for less with baggies of 200 cigarettes going for $5 at some Native smoke shops on the U.S. side of the border.
During the operation, police were able to seize over 52,800 kilos of tobacco along with 836 kilos of cocaine, 35 pounds of marijuana, 100 grams of fentanyl, and 21 kilos of methamphetamine.
As for White, he now faces seven charges, including three counts to conspiracy to commit fraud, three counts of fraud and one count of profiteering. He is expected to be arraigned Wednesday night.