The federal government seized more than $266,000 from the bank account of a Tobacco Company owned by the Seneca-Cayuga Tribe of Oklahoma, and detained tobacco wholesaler in New York as part of a multi-stage investigation into the alleged trafficking millions of dollars worth tax-free cigarettes.
Chuck Craig, general manager of the Seneca-Cayuga Tobacco Co, has declined to comment Wednesday on the withdrawal of tribal tobacco company, citing the advice of lawyers. Seneca-Cayuga Tobacco Co. Grove is one of about 20 companies and individuals from Oklahoma, Missouri, New York, Nebraska, Florida, Washington and Canada that federal prosecutors say were “objects” or “persons of interest” in a complex conspiracy trafficking untaxed cigarettes.
Kansas City prosecutors filed 101 pages of the lawsuit in June seeking forfeiture of more than $ 2.6 million of the alleged conspirators, including $ 266,704 seized in January from the bank account of Seneca-Cayuga Tobacco Co. ‘s.
Prosecutors are also seeking forfeiture $ 550,000 aircraft and four Peterbilt tractors they claim that were purchased not tribal conspirators Missouri with money derived from illegal sales of untaxed cigarettes.
Don Ledford, a representative of U.S. prosecutors in Kansas City, said on Wednesday afternoon.
In the latest development, the Associated Press reported late Wednesday that federal agents raided Wolf Run Trading building in order Seneca nation in western New York and detained tobacco wholesaler William Parry. Parry and launch vehicle wolf among the objects and persons of interest listed in the court document of Kansas City.
While most of the detention centers for companies and individuals outside of Oklahoma, the Seneca-Cayuga Tobacco Company was not the only connection Oklahoma mentioned in forfeiture actions.
Robert Bell Blanchard “is believed to often traffic contraband (untaxed) cigarettes and other tobacco products in Missouri and Kansas in Oklahoma,” prosecutors wrote. “The supervision of law enforcement agencies noted, Bell distribution of cigarettes is believed, from, Missouri, across the Oklahoma City metropolitan.”
According to prosecutors, Kansas State Highway Patrol stopped Bell and his girlfriend, Suzanne Ruby, November 17, when they were on their way to the caches and purchase contraband cigarettes seized $ 75,339 in currency, marijuana and firearms.
Just over two months later, on January 21, Missouri State Highway Patrol stopped Bell and Ruby when they were on their way to the warehouse to buy contraband cigarettes seized another $ 82,601 in currency and a small amount of marijuana, prosecutors said.
Bell has a tax warrant in Oklahoma for more than $ 600,000 in delinquent taxes on cigarettes, the data show. He could not be located for comment.
Federal agents of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives launched an investigation into the smuggling of cigarette sales in December 2009 after the discovery of untaxed cigarettes sold in a store in Kansas City, court records show.
Agents reportedly traced cigarettes Kansas City Area Company called cheap tobacco Wholesale LLC. They then proceeded to carry out complex investigation that involved intercepted cell phone calls, tracking devices, and a number of transactions in which undercover agents sold the suspects several million packs of cigarettes, tax-free.
Prosecutors allege that the Seneca-Cayuga Tobacco Co. helped broker and hide the sale of contraband cigarettes distributor Nebraska and New York smoke shop.
Seneca-Cayuga Tobacco Co. profits through parts of New York State sales taxes are evaded, prosecutors say in the confiscation of documents.
Alan Beck, a longtime Oklahoma City tobacco wholesaler, said Wednesday that he was pleased to see federal officials taking some actions, but he believes that they should go ahead and lock up offenders.
Beck complained to the Oklahoma Tax Commission and other government officials, at least seven years, the illegal sale of tobacco in the state were costing the state and legitimate wholesalers million.
He estimated that the sale of untaxed cigarettes distributors rogue state was costing between $ 1 million and $ 2 million a month in lost income tax.
Covert operations ATF actually harm legitimate wholesalers - at least in the short term - to help flood the market with cheap, tax-free cigarettes, he said.
“I can not compete with the government,” he said. “It’s amazing all the laws still in business.”
After considering applications Kansas City confiscation court, Beck said he did not seem to him that the Oklahoma and other states were receiving payments from the tobacco settlement million packs of cigarettes that government agents were forced to sell during an undercover operation.