Cigarette smuggling from Virginia to New York..

June 5, 2009 - A New Jersey man has pleaded guilty in Alexandria federal court to purchasing thousands of cartons of cigarettes, the latest in a growing number of cases targeting smugglers who buy truckloads of cigarettes in Northern Virginia and sell them in other states without paying taxes on them.

Federal officials have been cracking down for years on smugglers who buy cigarettes in Virginia, haul them north on Interstate 95 and sell them in other states without paying the required cigarette taxes. It becomes a federal crime when someone buys, sells, transports or distributes more than 10,000 cigarettes, or 50 cartons, to avoid payment of state tax.

Cigarette smuggling is difficult to stop, partly because tobacco is a legal product, and can be highly lucrative: The smuggler said in court documents that he spent more than $1.6 million to purchase the cigarettes in Northern Virginia starting in November 2007.

Smuggling operations have long relied on suppliers in Virginia, where the state tax of 30 cents per pack is among the nation's lowest, partly because of the tobacco industry's historic prominence and political influence in the state. Smugglers purchase cigarettes in Virginia, through criminal means or legally in bulk from wholesale outlets, and sell them in the New York area.

Reference: ATF Sting Smokes Out N.J. Cigarette Smuggler
Man Spent $1.6 Million On Tobacco in N.Va.
by Jerry Markon, Washington POst, 6/4/2009.

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