ILLEGAL CIGARETTE TRAFFICKING TARGET OF PLANNED CRACKDOWN.Byline: Steve Geissinger Sacramento Bureau
SACRAMENTO - California and nine other states joined forces Friday with a U.S. anti-terrorism agency and major credit card firms to crack down on illegal Internet cigarette trafficking and smuggling smuggling, illegal transport across state or national boundaries of goods or persons liable to customs or to prohibition. Smuggling has been carried on in nearly all nations and has occasionally been adopted as an instrument of national policy, as by Great Britain .
Michael Bouchard, assistant field-operations director for the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (abbreviated ATF, sometimes BATF or BATFE) is a United States federal agency; more specifically a specialized law enforcement and regulatory organization within the United States Department of Justice. , said he welcomed the aid because the agency's investigations show millions of dollars each year in illegal sales of cigarettes are diverted to fund terrorists and criminal organizations.
Federal officials fear that a plan by Democrats to raise the tobacco tax to benefit the environment and health care would spur cigarette smuggling and on-line sales from overseas and low-tax states - activities they say fund terrorists, supply minors with tobacco and cost states millions of dollars in revenue.
Conservatives and anti-tax groups are calling on Republican Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger to veto the bills if they're passed, while the sponsoring environmental and health care groups are asking him to sign them. He has not taken a position but opposes tax hikes in general.
California Attorney General The California Attorney General is the State Attorney General of the government of the state of California in the USA. The officer's duty is to ensure that "the laws of the state are uniformly and adequately enforced" (California Constitution, Article V, Section 13. Bill Lockyer announced the crackdown after meeting in Washington, D.C., with federal officials, other states' attorneys general, and representatives of Visa, Master Card, American Express and other credit-card companies.
Illegal Internet cigarette sales and smuggling are ``a growing problem and it will take cooperation between government and the private sector to fight it effectively,'' said Lockyer, a former Democratic state senator from San Francisco's East Bay who is eyeing a run for governor next year.
Participants in the pact include New York New York, state, United States
New York, Middle Atlantic state of the United States. It is bordered by Vermont, Massachusetts, Connecticut, and the Atlantic Ocean (E), New Jersey and Pennsylvania (S), Lakes Erie and Ontario and the Canadian province of , Oregon, Colorado, Pennsylvania, Idaho, Louisiana, Maryland, Wisconsin and Vermont.
``We are taking a multifaceted, multijurisdictional approach to halting illegal cigarette sales,'' said Vermont Attorney General Vermont Attorney General is an elected office in Vermont, United States. It was created by an act of the legislature in 1790, repealed in 1797, and revived in 1904. List of Vermont Attorneys General
While federal officials said local law enforcement agencies A law enforcement agency (LEA) is a term used to describe any agency which enforces the law. This may be a local or state police, federal agencies such as the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) or the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA). are agreeing to cooperate their stepped-up efforts against smuggling, private firms said they are working on preventive policies that would thwart illegal online sales via credit card through shadowy Internet dealers.
Virtually all online sales of cigarettes are illegal because the sellers violate state and federal laws, including statutes that require sellers to verify the age of buyers to prevent sales to minors; require sales to be reported to be spoken of; to be mentioned, whether favorably or unfavorably.
See also: Report to state and federal tax authorities; and prohibit direct sales of cigarettes to consumers.
Other laws Internet cigarette sales violate include federal mail and wire fraud statutes, as well as the federal Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act and federal smuggling, contraband, money laundering The process of taking the proceeds of criminal activity and making them appear legal.
Laundering allows criminals to transform illegally obtained gain into seemingly legitimate funds. and cigarette labeling laws.
Experts expect online cigarette sales will comprise about 15 percent of total sales nationwide - or about $5 billion annually - by the end of the year. The number of online retailers operating in the nation has climbed to nearly 1,000.
Steve Geissinger, (916) 447-9302