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Counterfeit cigarettes seized by Brooklyn District Attorney Charles Hynes

DA Hynes: Six million counterfeit cigarettes from China seized

The Brooklyn Paper
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These smokes are smooth, mellow, and totally off the books!

Detectives with the Brooklyn District Attorney’s Money Laundering and Revenue Crimes Bureau seized more than 30,000 cartons of counterfeit cigarettes from a Borough Park warehouse last Thursday night — $3.75 million worth of blissfully tax-free tobacco pleasure, according to Brooklyn DA Charles Hynes.

“Selling this poison… is a drain on the state and city economy, because these cigarettes are entirely untaxed,” said Hynes at press conference last Friday afternoon, surrounded by mounds of impounded bogies falsely labled as Marlboros, Newports and Camels.

The seizure, which was the result of six months of grueling undercover work, coincided with the arrest of Yin Haun Zhao, so far the only suspect in custody for the multi-million dollar counterfeit operation.

These counterfeit smokes, aside from depriving the city of $1.8 million in tax revenue, also carry additional health risks beyond the increased risk of emphysema and various forms of cancer typically associated with tobacco smoking.

In China, where the bogus butts originated, unregulated tobacco is sometimes dried by trucks rolling over the nicotine-filled leaves laid out on the ground, lacing it with leaded gas fumes in the process, according to Michael Vecchione, Chief of the Brooklyn DA’s Racket Division.

“As unhealthy as smoking is, smoking counterfeit and bootleg cigarettes is even worse, because there is no way of knowing what chemicals they contain,” said Hynes.

The Brooklyn DA’s office is certainly high on the recent bust, though some smokers in the borough may have preferred sucking on contaminated cigarettes over paying New York City’s smoking tax, which at $5.85 is the highest in the country.

Reach reporter Colin Mixson at cmixson@cnglocal.com or by calling (718) 260-4514.

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Reader Feedback

Jay from Park Slope says:
When the cigarettes disappear from the evidence warehouse Hynes can get the same detectives who investigated the missing heroin from French connection bust.
Jan. 28, 2013, 2:16 am
Michael J. McFadden from Ex-Park Slope says:
The smuggling police chief said, "In China, where the bogus butts originated, unregulated tobacco is sometimes dried by trucks rolling over the nicotine-filled leaves laid out on the ground, lacing it with leaded gas fumes in the process"

Somehow the source of that information sounds at *least* as questionable as the contents of the cigarettes: It's like the antismoking blurb a year or two ago trying to claim that cigarettes were made with pig's blood in order to deter Muslims from smoking.
'
NY's taxation of cigarettes is set at a criminal level. I can't blame anyone for avoiding it. Meanwhile, the Antismokers who push for it on the basis of "saving the children" know perfectly well that making more bootleg cigarettes available through the guys with the shopping bags makes it EASIER for kids to buy cigarettes.
'
Michael J. McFadden,
Author of "Dissecting Antismokers' Brains"
(Grew up at 10th St. and 7th Ave.)
Jan. 28, 2013, 8:55 am
Mickey Shea from Greenpoint says:
Heh heh, they jack up taxes to insane levels and then
stroke out when a black market appears. Morons.
Jan. 28, 2013, 9:17 am
ty from pps says:
Hey Colin Mixson -- Where did you come up with this $4.5 million price tag? Legal, fully taxed cigarettes don't cost $15/pack -- why do your illegal ones from China?

(a) If that was your math, it's really off the mark, or (b) if the DA actually used that figure, it's the job of the journalist to report properly... either pointing out the exaggeration (and providing a more reasonable figure) or sticking with the facts that are facts.
Jan. 28, 2013, 9:47 am
Barry from Flatbush says:
The fortuitous relationship between smoking and IQ should help evolution right along. Enjoy!
Jan. 31, 2013, 7:26 pm
Michael J. McFadden from Park Slope ex-pat says:
ty, I actually wouldn't be at all surprised if cigarette machines in clubs in Manhattan (if they're still allowed) charge $15/pack.

- MJM
Feb. 1, 2013, 1:30 am

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