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@cn