In a special news-conference, Henry Burrows, vice chairman of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives declared that the Bureau agents cooperated with Massachusetts Police officers to make a raid on depository in Boston and seized nearly 12 million fags, with overwhelming part of them being Marlboro cigarettes, which came from China.
This operation resulted in the largest ever confiscation of counterfeit cigarettes carried out across the state of Massachusetts, according to an ATF report.
Policemen discovered a warehouse with 60,000 packs of bootleg Marlboros inside, a week after they had arrested Vu Bin Cao, a 44-year-old unemployed from Springfield, who had in advance arranged with an undercover ATF officer to change his counterfeit smokes for a fewer amount of untaxed cigs, said the ATF spokesman.
Prior to the bargain, Cao had arranged with ATF agent to purchase untaxed cigarettes, with a net price of $2 million when a five-month investigation took place.
When tobacco taxes have been raised in the majority of states and the federal excise tax went into force, sales of counterfeit cigarettes that lack tax stamps became a hugely lucrative business for criminal gangs. While Rhode Island charges $3.80 in taxes for each cigarette pack, Virginia's Loudon County levies only 80-cent tax per pack, being a sum of both local and state taxes and making a huge difference and a key point for criminals to profit.
Besides the inequality in taxes among the states, there is another opportunity for black market to benefit – the bootleg cigarettes coming from China, which have been prevalent in the black market, according to an ATF report.
Mr. Burrows declared that counterfeit smokes have become a primary problem for the Bureau and other law-enforcements. He admitted that smokers don't take into account the difference between the original cigarettes made by US manufacturers and Chinese counterfeits, as it has been scientifically proven that Chinese cigarette makers put much more addictives into their products that makes Chinese fakes even more dangerous to health than American counterparts.
The cigarettes confiscated from Boston warehouses, owned by Cao were manufactured in China and had the names of Marlboro Reds and Marlboro Lights. The spokesman for Philip Morris USA, the maker of genuine Marlboros said that after performing several laboratory analyses, experts confirmed that confiscated cigarettes were fake.
The smokes confiscated from the depositories had been stored in packages with "Made in China" stamp on those packages.
The undercover ATF officer admitted he had also agreed with Cao to sell him 60,000 packs every three months. The agent asked Cao to send the cigarettes to an address in Puerto Rico. And the detained man said he would provide the necessary amount of products to the stipulated address without any problems.
The detained Cao now prepares for a lawsuit in one of the Massachusetts penitentiaries.