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Monthly Archives: October 2011
Editor’s Note: One of the key points in the article below is that cigarette trafficking is more lucrative than gun running.
From: Wall Street Journal
By TAMER EL-GHOBASHY And DEVLIN BARRETT
Within months of being approached by a confidential informant about making a traffic ticket disappear, William Masso, a veteran NYPD officer, was suggesting a more lucrative scheme: smuggling cigarettes into New York City, federal authorities said.
“Do you know how much you’ll make with that?” Mr. Masso allegedly told the Federal Bureau of Investigation informant in April 2010.
Editor’s Note: The following article illustrates the close relation between cigarette trafficking and arms trafficking.
From: WABC TV
NEW YORK (WABC) — The bust of a gun trafficking ring snared 12 people, including eight current and former NYPD officers, as well as a corrections officer from New Jersey.
Five current and three retired NYPD officers will be arraigned Tuesday on federal charges including conspiracy to transport firearms across state lines, conspiracy to transport defaced firearms across state lines, conspiracy to sell firearms across state lines and conspiracy to transport and receive stolen property across state lines. Also arrested are a former New Jersey state corrections officer, a former officer with the city’s Department of Sanitation Police and two of his friends.
From: NACS Online
A four-year investigation leads to nearly 50 arrests last week when officials broke up a major cigarette tax crime ring.
ATLANTA – The cigarettes they were selling may have been real, but they were doing so without paying taxes
Georgia state officials announced last week that 40 of the 50 people being accused in a multi-million-dollar crime ring at been arrested, following a nearly four-year statewide investigation, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported.
“This is pure and simple, organized crime,” said Scott Sweetow, an ATF special agent. “When you have millions of dollars at stake, we get very concerned with those millions of dollars.”
The crime ring includes both retailers and wholesalers who were practicing tax evasion on a large scale by purchasing counterfeit tax stamps, notes the newspaper, adding that the ring has cost the state millions of dollars in tax revenue.
“They gave the appearance that they were following the law, but in fact they didn’t realize they were conspiring with agents,” Sweetow said.
The individuals involved in the crime ring are expected to face charges under the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations (RICO) Act, and for possession of tobacco with counterfeit stamps.
From: Birmingham Mail (UK)
CUSTOMS officers seized almost 80,000 illegal cigarettes in a raid on a Dudley Market stall which also netted counterfeit clothing.
Others involved in the swoop earlier this month, which also targeted a van and a private address, were officers from Dudley trading standards and NHS Dudley.
Coun David Stanley, Dudley cabinet member for environment and culture, said: “The people who sell these goods are not helping our community or honest local traders and we will not hesitate to act upon information we have received.”
Editor’s Note: The following article highlights that counterfeit and other contraband cigarettes contribute to youth smoking.
From Rochdale Online (UK)
A new campaign has been launched to raise awareness of illegal tobacco after research revealed its availability is making it too easy for children and young people to smoke.
The “Keep it Out” campaign, launched by Tobacco Free Futures (previously known as Smokefree North West), aims to raise awareness of illegal tobacco and the harmful effect it has on young people in the borough of Rochdale.
Editor’s Note: The following article from AP quotes a federal law enforcement official noting that counterfeit cigarettes carry even greater health risks than legal products. For an in-depth analysis of the counterfeit issue, please see “An Inquiry into the Nature, Causes and Impacts of Contraband Cigarettes” found here.
ATLANTA, GA 10/21/2011 — “We catch the stupid, the greedy and the damned unlucky,” said ATF agent David Brewer.
But he says the case culminating with raids Wednesday and fifty arrest warrants was not about the stupid or unlucky. But the greed and the green, and not paying cigarette taxes.
Federal and State Government Lose Millions in Tax Revenue
ATLANTA, Oct. 19, 2011 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ — The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) Atlanta Field Division, together with officials from the Georgia Attorney General’s Office, Georgia Department of Revenue, the Gwinnett County District Attorney’s Office, the Lawrenceville Police Department, and the Gwinnett County Sheriff’s Department, announced today a large-scale enforcement operation involving the execution of multiple arrest, search, and seizure warrants in connection with the illegal trafficking of cigarettes in Georgia. ATF and participating agencies executed seven search warrants and 50 arrest warrants for violations of state law involving the illegal possession, sale and distribution of contraband cigarettes.
The illegal tobacco trade in Northern Ireland costs the exchequer around £85m a year, MPs have been told.
The figures were given to the Northern Ireland Affairs Committee at Westminister which is investigating smuggling and fuel laundering.
The committee was told that 17% of cigarettes smoked in Northern Ireland are illegal compared to 13% in GB.
It also heard that 59% of handrolling tobacco was illicit compared to 54% in the rest of the UK.
The committee was also told that Northern Ireland had around 1,775 retail outlets selling tobacco which had noticed a drop in turnover.
By Bob Orr
(CBS News) Many state governments are struggling to make ends meet, and many are laying off cops and teachers.
CBS News correspondent Bob Orr reports that, as a result, some states are losing billions of dollars to smugglers in an illegal trade that can be more profitable than drug dealing.
On Interstate 95, at the Virginia-Maryland border, CBS News observed police closing in on a suspected smuggler. He was not running drugs, but something even more profitable.
Inside the car police find 12 cases of cigarettes – 3,600 packs – bought in Virginia, and likely destined to be resold illegally in New York.
From: Irish Independent
FORMER drug traffickers are focusing on cigarette smugglingbecause of the potential profits and the lack of deterrents, writes Tom Brady.
Retailers have called on the Government and the courts to adopt a tougher stance against the smugglers who, they claim, are responsible for job losses in their businesses.
There have been 77 prosecutions for cigarette smuggling this year, resulting in total fines of €98,050 and 26 jail sentences, of which 19 were suspended. The average fine in the second quarter of the year was €1,468, even though the maximum fine allowable is €126,000.