|Gary James Arnold, identified as the alleged mastermind of a tobacco and narcotics smuggling operation. (QMI Agency/MAXIME DELAND)
MONTREAL - Police say it's likely that a fire that ravaged the home of a reputed former head of an illegal cigarette and pot smuggling ring Sunday was set deliberately.
QMI Agency learned that the home in Godmanchester, Que., about 80 km southwest of Montreal, belonged to Gary James Arnold.
Provincial police arrested Arnold and 22 others last March in connection with the alleged smuggling ring. Arnold was one of four local firefighters arrested that day in raids across 10 southern Quebec municipalities.
Police said Arnold headed the smuggling network, which was allegedly headquartered in Godmanchester's fire hall.
During the March raids, police said they seized contraband cigarettes, marijuana as well as 35 firearms.
The smuggling ring allegedly distributed cases of illegally manufactured cigarettes from the Akwesasne native reserve, which straddles the borders of Ontario, Quebec and the U.S.
Provincial police have taken over the investigation into Sunday morning's fire.