NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/AP) — In “Operation Smokeout,” Queens District Attorney Richard Brown seized over 4,000 cartons of untaxed cigarettes in just three months. The cigarettes were apparently smuggled in from overseas and some Southern states.
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Brown explained that millions are lost in tax revenue. Cartons go from $12 to $14 a piece but Brown said the smuggled cigarettes go for half that amount.
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Brown said 12 defendants shortchanged the state by nearly $300,000.
A special unit has been put in place to handle tax avoidance schemes.
Meanwhile, New York City has filed a federal lawsuit accusing 32 people of evading millions of dollars in cigarette taxes by buying heaps of cartons over the Internet, and then reselling them on the black market.READ MORE: 'Today's Verdict Is Not The End': Tri-State Area Officials React To Derek Chauvin's Conviction In George Floyd's Death
The suit takes aim at city residents who bought cigarettes from Chavez Inc., a Kentucky company that was raided and effectively shuttered by federal agents in late 2009.
The defendants include one woman accused of having nearly $1 million worth of cigarettes shipped to her Brooklyn apartment over three years — about 32,000 cartons.
The city is seeking $6.5 million in unpaid taxes from Chavez Inc. and the other defendants, plus another $13 million in penalties.
Lawyers for Chavez have said the company was not legally obligated to collect taxes on out-of-state sales.
(TM and Copyright 2011 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2011 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)MORE NEWS: Derek Chauvin Guilty On All 3 Counts In George Floyd’s Death