Criminals See Differences in Cigarette Tax Rates as Means to Easy Bucks, Say Investigators

By Brian Monroe

Increases in the rates that U.S. states tax cigarette purchasers has led to a rise in tobacco smuggling by organized crime groups and terrorist financiers, say governmental officials. The problem, highlighted in a July report by the Financial Action Task Force, has worsened over the last four years as prosecutions of the crime have risen by more than a third nationwide, according to Paul Carey, chief of enforcement for the Northern Virginia Cigarette Tax Board, citing conversations with state and federal officials. "It has become irresistible to organized crime," said G. Stewart Petoe, director of legal affairs for the Virginia...