ATF stings put 250M illegal cigarettes on streets
Friday, January 22, 2010
FALLS CHURCH, Va. (AP) -- An Associated Press review has found that undercover ATF agents in Virginia have put more than 250 million cigarettes onto the streets in the past three years in sting operations targeting smugglers.
The stings are a response to an increase in smuggling as smokers in high-tax states like New York seek out cheap cigarettes on the black market.
Authorities say the cigarettes have led them to organized crime rings, drug dealers and can even cut off financing for terrorists. The stings have yielded about five dozen federal arrests, though none on terror charges.
Even though some of the cigarettes undoubtedly end up in the hands of minors, anti-tobacco groups are encouraging ATF to conduct even more stings across the nation to combat the smuggling problem.