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Monthly Archives: July 2011
Editor’s Note: CRE’s Counterfeit Cigarette IPD has repeatedly discussed the dangers posed by counterfeiters from China and other countries producing high quality counterfeit tax stamps, packaging and other materials that allow them to pass off bogus cigarettes as legitimate products. The attached article from the front page of The Washington Post reports that Chinese counterfeiters are now producing very high quality driver’s licenses. These forged documents are being used by underage Americans to gain access to alcohol, sometimes with fatal consequences.
From: ABC News (Australia)
Illegal tobacco seized in ATO raids
An estimated 20 tonnes of tobacco has been seized after a series of raids on greenhouses in Sydney’s west.
The seizures come as the tobacco industry warns the Government’s plain packaging laws and high excise taxes will lead to a growth in the black market – a claim rejected by public health experts.
Australia’s commercial tobacco-growing industry shut down in 2006, but Australian Tax Office deputy commissioner Michael Cranston says there are a few people in Sydney’s west who appear intent on growing their own and selling it.
China seized 1.97 billion counterfeit cigarettes nationwide in the first half of this year, the State Tobacco Monopoly Administration said Friday.
Authorities clamped down on 232 counterfeiting networks in the first six months, the administration said. Law enforcement agencies rounded up 4,110 people suspected of producing and selling counterfeit cigarettes and prosecuted 1,849 of them, it said.
Authorities solved 2,203 counterfeit cases in the period, with each case involving products valued at more than 50,000 yuan (7,767 U.S. dollars), the administration added.
The administration said the country seized 5.7 billion counterfeit cigarettes last year.
Editor’s Note: Protection of trademarks is an essential component of the national and global effort against counterfeit tobaco and tobacco-related products. In the letter attached below, National Tobacco Company informs Congress that a long-standing and distinguished trademark, ZIG-ZAG®, is under assault from counterfeiters and gray market (unauthorized) imports.
The letter to Congress explains that counterfeiting of ZIG-ZAG® products has been used to finance a foreign terrorist organization and the counterfeiters’ close links to criminal activities was revealed by the federal government’s Joint Terrorism Task Force. National Tobacco’s letter further demonstrates that the counterfeiting and unauthorized importation of trademark tobacco products is a danger to all Americans.
£3 million Chinese smuggling operation bust, over 11 million counterfeit cigarettes seized by custom officers
From: Institute of International Trade
Imported from China, the ultimate destination was the black market outlets in UK. But unfortunately, the destination was never reached.
Around 11.3 million counterfeit cigarettes were seized midway by the custom duty officials, with a £3 million smuggling operation by a Chinese gang going bust. Supposedly, this was the biggest smuggling captures in the North East.
Most of these counterfeit cigarettes were of the Super-king and Regal brands, two of the most popular brands in the whole of United Kingdom. A special taskforce found the counterfeit cigarettes in a filthy warehouse on the riverbanks of Tyne in Gateshead, Newcastle. The main thing that gave it away was the similar serial number on all the cigarette packaging boxes.
“Cigarette smuggling is a black cloud over the region and finances organised crime on a global scale. ”
From: Daily Mirror
Customs officers seize 12 million fake cigarettes and smash Chinese gang
Eleven million fake ciggies have been seized by customs officers in a swoop which smashed a Chinese smuggling gang.
The haul, worth £3million on the black market, was imported from China and destined for UK black market outlets.
The seizure of 11.3 million counterfeit Regal and Super-kings brands is the biggest in the North East.
CHILDREN as young as seven are being sold fake cigarettes at dozens of “tab houses” in Middlesbrough, officials have warned.
The counterfeit fags pose a greater threat to smokers’ health than the real thing, consumer watchdogs say.
Middlesbrough Council’s trading standards team has subjected counterfeit cigarettes and tobacco to chemical analysis.
The tests have shown the fake tobacco often contains an even more damaging cocktail of chemicals than their shop bought counterparts.
Checks revealed the counterfeit cigarettes seized contained an average of 63% more tar than genuine products – with figures as high as 130% being recorded.
CRE is issuing a new report, “The Countervailing Effects of Counterfeit Cigarettes” to assist the TPSAC in fulfilling their as yet unmet Congressionally-mandated duty to opine on the “countervailing effects” of counterfeit cigarettes on the health of underage and adult smokers. The Tobacco Control Act requires that the TPSAC’s health scientists evaluate the health efffects, not economic impact, of counterfeit cigarettes.
The need for researchers to study the health effects specific to counterfeit cigarettes is long established in the peer reviewed literature. As a 2005 study in Environmental Science & Technology explained,
The Power of Anti-Contraband Networking: ATF Executes Search Warrants in Contraband Cigarette Trafficking Investigation
Editors Note: CRE through this IPD has been leading the charge to have Federal and State enforcement agencies increase contraband enforcement. To this end CRE is pleased of the substantial readership this Interactive Public Dockets has received from law enforcement agencies.
Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives
Seattle Field Division
At The Frontline Against Violent Crime
For Immediate ReleaseJuly 13, 2011 www.atf.gov
Contact: SA/PIO Cheryl Bishop (206) 255-5981 Or SA/PIO Brad Beyersdorf (303) 710-643
by CHRIS INGALLS / KING 5 News and KING 5 News Staff
SEATTLE — It’s a stunning number.
Crooks have committed an estimated $24 million crime against Washington taxpayers. They did it by smuggling illegal cigarettes into the State and evading hefty taxes.
Wednesday morning, federal investigators started fighting back.
Agents from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms hauled dozens of boxes out of a home in Kenmore. Inside the packages were packs of Vietnamese made Marlboro cigarettes.
“They are legitimate cigarettes that can be legally purchased in Vietnam”, says ATF agent Mark Lieser. “It becomes illegal when they are imported into the United States without the tax stamps.”