During a news-conference, Michael Campbell, spokesman for the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives said that ATF agents collaborated with local Police Department officers to raid a warehouse in Springfield and confiscate almost 12 million cigarettes, in most part Marlboros, produced and shipped from China.
The seizure became the largest ever raid in the history of Massachusetts, said the spokesman.
Federal agents found storage, containing 60,000 packs of counterfeit Marlboros last week, after they had detained Ping Teng Mai, a 40-year-old Springfield jobless, who had previously reached an agreement with an undercover ATF agent to change his bogus cigarettes for a smaller number of untaxed cigarettes, according to a report passed to Springfield higher court.
Before this deal, ATF agent had agreed with Mai to sell him untaxed smokes worth of $2 million during four months of investigation.
Since excise taxes on cigarettes have been hiked in many places, sales of untaxed cigarettes raised to become a booming business for local criminals. Whereas, New York City put $1.50 in addition to the state’s $2.75 tax on cigarettes, Virginia’s Fairfax County demands for only 80 cents for both state and local cigarette tax. This makes a huge difference and a cornerstone for black market.
In addition to the latter opportunity, there is another chance for criminals to boodle- the counterfeit Chinese cigarettes that have been flooding the underground cigarette market, said the spokesman for the ATF.
Mr. Campbell stated that fake cigarettes have become a major headache for enforcement agencies. He said smokers simply do not understand that the composition of American-made cigarettes dramatically differs from that of Chinese bogus, since Chinese manufacturers can put even more hazardous additives in those smokes, making them even more toxic they can be.
The smoked found in Springfield storages, appertaining to Mai were made in China as Marlboro Reds and Lights. The representative of Altria lab said they completed tests and proved that those cigarettes have been counterfeit.
The cigarettes were contained in several packages with “Made in China” sign on them.
The ATF agent said that he also negotiated with Mai to supply him with 60,000 packs every four months. He asked Mai if he could ship those cigarettes to Puerto Rico, and Mai answered that there would be absolutely no problems to provide the undercover agent with the desired amount of cigarettes as well as ship them to Puerto Rico.
Arrested Mai now awaits the lawsuit in a remand prison.