New York - more incidence of illicit cigarette traffiking..

April 2, 2009 - Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) New York office today, April 1, 2009 announced the arrests of two individuals who purchased untaxed cigarettes from ATF while also selling ATF counterfeit New York State/City Tax Stamps.

Illicit (illegal, contraband) cigarette smuggling defeats the purpose of anti-tobacco programs such as the continuous increase in tobacco taxes to make it too costly for kids to even consider smoking. Kids, who shouldn't be smoking at all, are having no trouble getting their hands on illegal cigarettes that cost pennies.

During the nine month investigation, Guang Ming Wang purchased a total of 31,980 cartons of untaxed cigarettes for $846,000 and also sold ATF 103,950 counterfeit NY State/City tax stamps for $4,000. After the undercover sales of cigarettes, both Wang's were observed by agents unloading the contraband at two locations, 144-05 29th Road and 135-06 62nd Ave. in Queens.

The cartons sold to Wang contained a total of 319,800 individual cigarette packs, which at a price of $10 per pack had a retail street value of more than $3.1 million dollars in New York City. The counterfeit New York tax stamps are worth $4.25 each, bringing their street value to over $440,000. It is estimated that the defendants conspired to deprive New York State and City of at least $1.8 million dollars in tax revenue through their actions.

The defendants are initially being charged with conspiracy to violate the Contraband Cigarette Trafficking Act and could face up to 5 years in prison on these charges. Additional charges are expected to be filed by the United States Attorney for the Eastern District of New York whose office will be prosecuting the case.

In another New York case federal authorities have accused a former New York City police officer of shipping untaxed cigarettes from New York to Michigan, leading Michigan to lose out on more than $600,000 in cigarette excise tax. (Former New York City police officer charged with trafficking in contraband cigarettes, Associated Press, 3/16/2009)

Reference: ATF Arrests Million Dollar Cigarette Smugglers in Queens --CIGARETTES HAD A STREET VALUE OF OVER $3 MILLION by: PR Newswire, 4/1/2009.