Several people arrested on Wednesday for illegal alcohol sales in Quebec’s Inuit communities

The Quebec provincial police (SQ) office in Kuujjuaq, a village in Nunavik, the Inuit region of Arctic Quebec. (Eilís Quinn/Eye on the Arctic)

Several people were arrested on Wednesday in connection with contraband alcohol sales in Quebec’s Inuit communities, the province’s provincial police said in a news release.

Police say the individuals are part of an illegal alcohol ring that buys spirits in the Montreal region before sending them to Nunavik, the Inuit region of Arctic Quebec, where they’re resold for eight to 12 times the price, with a $15 bottle going for up to $200.

Between 2016 and 2020, police say the ring bought approximately 43,000 bottles, nabbing them an estimated $8 million.

A 2020 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)

Police say approximately a dozen individuals were arrested and face charges ranging from fraud and conspiracy, to sale of stolen goods and trafficking of illegal substances.

Wednesday’s arrests were part of Project Plutonium which began in 2019 and seeks to crack down on the sale of illegal drugs and alcohol in Nunavik.

The project is collaboration between Quebec provincial police (la Sûreté du Québec); Nunavik Police Service; Canada Post; Revenu Quebec, Quebec’s tax agency; and Quebec’s liquor board (la Société des alcools du Québec).

Write to Eilís Quinn at 

Related stories from around the North: 

Canada: Nunavik crime victims systematically shut out of Quebec compensation program, Radio-Canada

Finland: Police response times up to an hour slower in Arctic Finland, Yle News

Sweden: Police respond to rising burglaries in Swedish Lapland, Radio Sweden

United States: U.S. Justice Dept. awards $42 million in tribal grants to fight crime, help victims in rural Alaska, Alaska Public Media

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