Manitoba First Nation smoke shop operators fined $100K

The First Nation operators of a Manitoba smoke shop that sold untaxed cigarettes are not deterred by a $100,000 fine that four of them received this week, according to a spokesperson.

Dakota Chundee shop will continue operating, spokesperson says

Organizers of the Dakota Chundee smoke shop have been fighting the provincial government over their right to sell untaxed cigarettes without a license since the shop opened in November 2011. (CBC)

The First Nation operators of a smoke shop that sold untaxed cigarettes are not deterred by a $100,000 fine that four of them received this week, according to a spokesperson.

The four men were fined on Wednesday in Brandon, Man., after they were convicted for their roles in running the Dakota Chundee Smoke Shop in southwestern Manitoba.

Located on off-reserve land near Pipestone, and operated by eight First Nations, the shop has been selling cigarettes without a licence.

The men were convicted under Manitoba's Tax Administration and Miscellaneous Taxes Act and the Tobacco Tax Act.

But Craig Blacksmith, a smoke shop spokesperson, told CBC News the fine won't stop the operators from continuing.

"We're just going to keep right on going on with what we're doing," he said Thursday.

"This isn't a deterrent by any stretch … it's still going to proceed."

The shop has been raided numerous times by authorities and ordered closed since it first opened in November 2011.

One government investigator has said customers at the Dakota Chundee shop could buy a carton of 200 cigarettes for just $40.

Blacksmith has said the shop is not beholden to provincial law and has a right to sell Mohawk tobacco from Quebec for half the price of a legal carton in Manitoba.

In sentencing the four men, the judge presiding over the case acknowledged the argument from First Nation officials that the smoke shop meant to provide revenue for their people.

However, the judge added that the men created and maintained an enterprise that they knew was not legal.