New York Braces for Black-Market Cigarettes

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New York Braces for Black-Market Cigarettes

NEW YORK -- A new crop of cigarette smugglers is expected to blow into town if the proposed $1.50-per-pack tax hike is approved by the state and city this week.

According to a report in the New York Post, a vanload of smuggled smokes could earn more than $100,000 in profit. Some bootleggers have already tested the market, said William McMahon, assistant special agent in charge of the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms in New York.

"Is getting busier, that's for sure," he said. "It's going to be a big money-maker."

In February, two Chinese nationals were busted in Queens while selling cartons from the back of a rental van for $22. They ferried nearly 2,000 cartons from Virginia, where the tax is only $2.50 per carton.

"You can fit 5,700 cartons in a standard van and potentially make $170,000 on a load from an Indian reservation," said Richard Lipsky, a lobbyist for local delis that stand to lose business if the city tax goes through. "That's a tremendous incentive."