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Law enforcement cracks down on cigarette smugglers

Posted at 7:05 PM, Sep 05, 2012
and last updated 2012-09-06 13:20:16-04

DINWIDDIE COUNTY, Va. (WTVR) - A new law focused on cracking down on the illegal transporting of cigarettes is being enforced in the commonwealth.

In turn, law enforcement officers are now looking for cigarettes, as well as illegal drugs, during traffic stops.

The new law means that if you are caught with more than 25 cartons, which is 5,000 cigarettes, and are not a licensed dealer or distributor, you could face a class two misdemeanor for your first offense.

This is not a new problem, though. People have been buying smokes in Virginia and selling them in New York City, where they cost more than three times as much, for some time.

The excise tax for Virginia on one case of cigarettes (60 cartons) is $180 dollars. However, it is more than $3,500 in New York City.

That high cost means cigarettes are, in some cases, being traded for illegal drugs.

A Dinwiddie County sheriff's deputy recently stopped a car for speeding on I-85 and spotted several cartons of cigarettes on the back seat.

When he searched the car, 65 cartons of cigarettes turned up. The driver was headed to  New York.

Major William Knott, Dinwiddie County Sheriff's Office says TC 21:21:01

"We can seize the car, we can seize any cash they would have on them," said Major William Knott, with the Dinwiddie County Sheriff's Office. "If it can be tied back to teh transportation of these cigarettes, it can be seized and forfieted."

Along with taking the cigarettes, officers can seize your car and any cash or other items, associated with illegally transporting cigarettes.