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Nunavik cops say bottles are bound for bootleggers

Bringing in the booze


Unauthorized shipments of vodka, rum, wine and beer have been arriving by the box-load in Nunavik, but police say they have managed to seize some of it before bootleggers can claim it.

During the past month, members of the Kativik Regional Police Force in Kangirsuk say they intercepted several shipments of booze bound for this nearly-dry community.

The seized booze had a total estimated street value of more than $20,000. The shipments included spirits, as well as wine and beer.

Some of this booze was addressed directly to known bootleggers in the community, police say.

When six boxes arrived at the Kangirsuk airport for one woman earlier this month, police had already asked for a warrant to carry out a search. They seized the shipments.

The police opened up the boxes back at the police station in front of the woman. Inside one box, hidden among some clothes, they found two 1.75 litre-bottles of Moskova vodka and four flask-sized mickeys of Smirnoff vodka. In another box, police uncovered a 1.14 litre-bottle of Absolut vodka, one 750 ml-bottle of wine and three bottles of Labatt Blue.

The woman watched in dismay as police drained the seized booze down the toilet.

In Kangirsuk, the import of hard liquor is banned, and residents are only supposed to order beer, and then, only if permitted by the municipal council.

The recipients of any unauthorized shipments receive a municipal fine, say police.

Some in Kangirsuk are furious police walked off with the booze. They claim police seized some booze without proper search warrants or documents in hand.

"Very wrong is being done to some Inuit persons and no one is doing anything about [it]," one resident in Kangirsuk, who wished to remain anonymous, wrote to the Nunatsiaq News. "I hope people in high places will act upon actions that's been taken in past and correct wrongs done to people who have been wronged."

Kangirsuk police say they had the proper paperwork to conduct searches prepared in advance, thanks to tips from the public about the shipments.

Police stand by the seizures, saying they prevented many social problems and stopped residents from losing money to bootleggers.

This month, police in Salluit also seized 84 mickeys of vodka and rum bound for resale in that alcohol-controlled community.

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