Police make raids across Montreal as part of investigation into alcohol, drug network selling into Arctic Quebec

The Quebec provincial police (SQ) office in Kuujjuaq, a village in Nunavik, the Inuit region of Arctic Quebec. The SQ was one of four police forces that conducted raids across the Montreal area Tuesday as part of an investigation into the illegal sale of alcohol and drugs into Arctic Quebec. (Eilís Quinn/Eye on the Arctic)
More than 80 police officers, from four different police forces in the Canadian province of Quebec, took part in raids across the Montreal area Tuesday as part of an ongoing investigation to dismantle a network illegally selling alcohol and drugs into Nunavik, the Inuit region of Arctic Quebec.

In all, seven residences and five vehicles were targeted in Tuesday morning’s raids as part of Project Plutonium by the La Sûreté du Québec (SQ), Quebec’s provincial police; the Laval Police Service, which serves the city of Laval just north of Montreal; the Kativik Regional Police Force, which serves Nunavik, and the Montreal Police (SPVM). 

A spokesperson for the SQ told Eye on the Arctic Tuesday morning that they weren’t immediately able to say what, if anything, was seized.

No arrests were made.

In a news release on Tuesday, the SQ said the investigation began in June 2019 in an effort to stamp out the illegal traffic of drugs and alcohol to Nunavik communities, and was done in collaboration with Canada Post; Revenu Quebec, Quebec’s tax agency and Quebec’s liquor board (SAQ).

A map from Quebec’s provincial police illustrating the path of illegal alcohol and drugs into Nunavik, the Inuit region of Arctic Quebec. The village of Kuujjuaq, Nunavik’s administrative capital is absent from the map but is located just south of Tasiujaq. The village of Kuujjuarapik is also absent from the map but is located south of Umiujuaq. (Sûreté du Québec, Kativik Regional Police Force)

The SQ said in the news release that between 2016 and 2020, more than 39,000 bottles of alcohol were bought for a value of $900,000. The bottles, mostly vodka, are then sold for eight to 12 times higher than in the southern part of the province.

The illegal items are sent into Nunavik by mail, police say.

The Kativik Regional Police Force says 74 per cent of their calls are alcohol related.

Quebec provincial police say further information about the raids will be released later on Tuesday.

Write to Eilís Quinn at eilis.quinn(at)cbc.ca

Related stories from around the North:

Canada: Death in the Arctic, Eye on the Arctic

Finland: Number of reported domestic violence cases rises in Finland, Yle News

United States: U.S. Justice Department to send millions to rural Alaska law enforcement, Alaska Public Media

Eilís Quinn, Eye on the Arctic

Eilís Quinn, Eye on the Arctic

Eilís Quinn is a journalist and manages Radio Canada International’s Eye on the Arctic news cooperation project. Eilís has reported from the Arctic regions of all eight circumpolar countries and has produced numerous documentary and multimedia series about climate change and the issues facing Indigenous peoples in the North. Her investigative report "Death in the Arctic: A community grieves, a father fights for change," about the violent death of Robert Adams, a 19-year-old Inuk man from Arctic Quebec, received an honourable mention for excellence in reporting on violence and trauma at the 2019 Dart Awards in New York City. Her multimedia project on the health challenges in the Canadian Arctic, "Bridging the Divide," was a finalist at the 2012 Webby Awards. Eilís has worked for media organizations in Canada and the United States and as a TV host for the Discovery/BBC Worldwide series "Best in China." Twitter: @Arctic_EQ Email: eilis.quinn(at)cbc.ca

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