Flushing mother, son caught peddling illegal smokes: DA

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A Flushing family was charged with running an illegal cigarette operation out of a downtown grocery store, the Queens district attorney said last week.

Ying Jian Lin, 48 and her son, Xiao Lin, 23, were charged with various violations of the tax code after law enforcement officials seized 677 cartons of foreign cigarettes and more than $130,000 in revenue from the sale of the illegal smokes. If convicted, they could face up to four years behind bars.

“Cigarette smuggling to evade state and local taxes is a multimillion-dollar industry. It is a highly profitable, tax-free cash business for those involved in it. However, it cheats taxpayers who must dip into their pockets to pay higher taxes. And it cheats the government as well by fueling an underground economy which does not pay much-needed state and city taxes,” District Attorney Richard Brown said.

“In today’s case, it is alleged that the defendants were seeking to shortchange New York state and New York City out of approximately $45,000 in tax revenue from yesterday’s seizure alone,” the DA said Nov. 21. “In addition, it is unlawful to sell such Asian brand cigarettes in New York or the United States because they do not carry the required surgeon general warnings.”

According to the district attorney, Xiao Lin would collect the cigarettes from a warehouse, at 134-24 Maple Ave., and bring them to the grocery store where his mother worked, at 41-82 Main St., the DA said.

Ying Jian Lin would then sell the cigarettes and pocket the cash under the radar of the taxman, according to Brown.

Law enforcement recovered money from the sale of the tobacco products from various sources, including a safety deposit box at a China Trust Bank on Main Street that contained $129,000 in mostly $100 and $50 bills, the DA said.

It was not immediately clear how the cigarettes arrived at the Maple Avenue storage garage.

Reach reporter Joe Anuta by e-mail at or by phone at 718-260-4566.

Posted 1:21 am, November 29, 2012
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