From: Newark Star-Ledger
By Tomas Dinges
NEWARK — Millions of dollars in untaxed cigarettes from China were unloaded in Port Newark and shipped to Los Angeles in a yearslong scheme run by four California men charged today with conspiracy, officials said.
From 2009 to 2011, undercover agents were paid by the men to escort containers filled with cigarettes from Port Newark past customs officials to a warehouse in South Jersey, said U.S. Attorney Paul Fishman.
Then, undercover agents drove the containers to various locations in California and were paid handling fees, Fishman said.
In all, about 2.3 million cigarettes were shipped without paying the 87-cents-per-pack California tax, or about $2 million, said Fishman.
The four Californians, Yazhoui Wu, 28, and Ricky Le, 51, both of Diamond Bar, Jia Yongming, 44, of Monterey, Johnny Chan Koon Ha, 35, of Corona, were charged with the conspiracy to ship and sell the cigarettes.
If convicted, the defendants face up to five years in prison and a $250,000 fine or twice the gain or loss from the scheme.