Cigarette Smuggling a Big Business in Md.
The latest trend in contraband in Maryland is cigarettes: thousands of packs being brought into the state from neighboring jurisdictions to avoid the state's new 66-cent-per-pack tax.
Maryland tax agents have made nine cigarette smuggling arrests since July 1--when the tax rose from 36 cents per pack--compared with five arrests in all of 1998. The latest arrest was made Tuesday of a New York man whose car trunk was crammed with 3,480 packs (348 cartons) of untaxed cigarettes. Authorities said they had been tracking the man, who was pulled over on Interstate 95 near Savage, for more than two weeks. He was charged with misdemeanor possession of untaxed cigarettes.
The largest haul to date was made Sept. 21 when a Brooklyn, N.Y., man was stopped on the Capital Beltway near Forestville. The rear compartment and back seats of the Dodge Caravan minivan Sahir Sulaiman, 35, was driving were stacked with 9,410 packs of untaxed cigarettes, state tax agents said. He, too, was charged with misdemeanor possession of untaxed cigarettes.
Four days later, 8,550 packs of untaxed cigarettes were seized from two men--one from Brooklyn, N.Y., the other from Richmond--who were arrested on Interstate 95 in Oxon Hill. Later the same day, 4,360 packs of untaxed cigarettes were seized from a Roanoke man, who was also stopped on I-95 in Prince George's County.