Column: New York targets smugglers of tribal tobacco brands

"Leave cigarette smugglers alone.

That's pretty much the message that went out last week from the New York State Department of Taxation to its investigators.

A two-page e-mail from Peter Persampieri, head of investigations, to underlings gave 11 possible scenarios under which they might encounter untaxed cigarettes being transported throughout the state.

Most of the times Persampieri tells investigators to let the load of untaxed butts continue on its way -- "don't seize" is the way he puts it.

In only one of those scenarios does the Tax Department suggest seizing the entire shipment of cigarettes.

That's when "non-native American, Middle Eastern and foreign nationals [are] running a business in NYS and who are found selling untaxed native American made cigarettes at retail outlets such as bodegas, etc."

In that case, Persampieri orders "seize the untaxed cigarettes whether they are premium or Native American brands.""

Get the Story:
John Crudele: State cigarette smuggler rules: Just butt out (The New York Post 7/12)

Related Stories:
Seneca Nation vows to keep fighting state tobacco tax ruling (6/22)
Seneca Nation will appeal latest decision in tobacco tax battle (6/9)
Judge extends temporary order over New York's tobacco tax (6/2)
Editorial: Stop New York tribes from untaxed cigarettes (5/31)
Seneca Nation leader discusses tobacco tax at UN forum (5/27)
New York judge bars tobacco tax on sales to Seneca Nation (5/10)
2nd Circuit lifts injunction in New York tribal tobacco tax feud (5/9)

Join the Conversation