3 charged for buying too many cigarettes in Henrico

Posted at 11:09 AM, Oct 20, 2012
and last updated 2012-10-20 11:23:30-04

HENRICO COUNTY, Va. (WTVR) - Buying large quantities of cigarettes in Virginia with the intent to sell them in a state with a higher tobacco tax rate could land you behind bars.

In fact, three people were arrested for doing just that on Thursday.

Henrico police say a detective spotted two of the suspects in the 1100 block of West Broad Street buying several cartons of cigarettes at a convenience store. Next, they were spotted heading down the road to another convenience store, where they bought more smokes.

Soon after that, Jamaine Ransom, Kelvin Ransom Yolanda Ransom were busted. 

The law which went into effect July first is clear. Anyone convicted of buying more than 25 cartons of cigarettes at a time with intention of distributing them is guilty of a Class 2 Misdemeanor. And if they get caught doing it a second time, they're guilty of a Class One Misdemeanor.

CBS 6 legal analyst Todd Stone says this is the only criminal offense in Virginia that does not have an identifiable victim.

“I mean what we`re seeing is criminal is that people that come from New York, New Jersey or some other state are actually coming down here and buying Virginia sales taxes and taking them out of the state. So who`s the victim in Virginia?” Stone asked.

But House Delegate David Albo, from northern Virginia, says the law passed because there was concrete evidence that gangs and terrorists organizations traffic these cigarettes and use the money to finance terrorist activities. 

If convicted, suspects could face six months in jail for their first offense. The second offense would land them behind bars for 12 months.