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Department of Taxation and Finance

NYS Tax Department Announces the Seizure of 5,305 Cartons of Contraband Cigarettes Since the beginning of May, Cigarette Strike Force has also seized 2,646 cigars and 23,092 illegal tax stamps

For Release: Immediate,

For press inquiries only, contact: James Gazzale, 518-457-7377

The New York State Department of Taxation and Finance said today that its Cigarette Strike Force has seized 5,305 cartons of contraband cigarettes, 2,646 contraband cigars, and 23,092 counterfeit cigarette tax stamps since the beginning of May.

Tax investigators, in their ongoing campaign against illegal tobacco trafficking and state tax violations, made arrests and seizures in Queens, Brooklyn, Poughkeepsie, and Newburgh.

“Our investigations target individuals who clearly try to cheat New York State and New York City out of vital tax dollars,” said Commissioner Jerry Boone. “With the cooperation of our many law enforcement partners, we’re having success bringing these criminals to justice.”

All cigarette packs sold in New York State and New York City must have the required New York State and New York City cigarette tax stamp affixed to the bottom, verifying that the excise taxes have been paid. Cigars and other tobacco products also are taxed under city and state laws.

The penalty can be as much as $600 per carton seized, under New York State Tax Law.

Ling F. Shi, 27, of 74-75 52nd Road, Queens, and He M. Wang, 46, of 612-21 Dry Harbor Road, Queens, were both charged with criminal tax fraud, possession for sale of untaxed cigarettes,  and possession for sale of unstamped or unlawfully stamped cigarettes, all felonies. They allegedly transported 4,903 cartons of untaxed cigarettes into New York City. The investigation was conducted in cooperation with U.S. Postal Inspectors, U.S. Customs Agents, and the Queens District Attorney’s Office, which will prosecute the case.

Ahmad Al-Wedyan, 60, of 978 E. 81st Street, allegedly possessed 23,092 counterfeit cigarette tax stamps and 93 cartons of untaxed contraband cigarettes. He was charged with these felonies: possession of forged instruments, possession for sale of untaxed cigarettes, and possession of counterfeit stamped cigarettes. The Kings County District Attorney will prosecute the case.

In a separate case, Ahmed M. Yahya, 30, of 897 Saint Johns Place, Brooklyn, was arrested after 179 cartons of cigarettes without the proper state and city tax stamps were seized from a vehicle he drove. He was charged with possessing and transporting contraband cigarettes, both felonies. The Kings County District Attorney will also prosecute this case.

Kheireddine Mazouzi, 29, of 6 State Street, Poughkeepsie, was employed at the R&K Deli located at 737 Main Street, Poughkeepsie. During a routine retail inspection, investigators found 115 cartons of contraband cigarettes and 900 untaxed cigars. Mazouri was charged with possession of untaxed cigarettes, criminal tax fraud, and possession of counterfeit tax stamps, all felonies. The Dutchess County District Attorney will prosecute the case.           

Strike Force investigators entered Monument Grocery located at 155 Renwick Street In Newburgh, Orange County, and discovered 1,746 untaxed cigars and two cartons of unstamped cigarettes in the store. Julio C. Herrejon, 31, of 156 Renwick Street, was charged with two misdemeanors for possession of untaxed tobacco and untaxed cigarettes. He was issued two tickets to appear in City of Newburgh Court later this month.

A criminal complaint is only an accusation and the defendants are presumed innocent until proven guilty.  

Report fraud

You can report tax evasion and fraud online at the Tax Department's website or by calling 518-457-0578. The information is kept confidential.