The Virginia State Crime Commission was told Wednesday that smuggling cigarettes has become so lucrative, organized criminals and many former drug dealers are getting in on the act.
During the legislative session last winter, the General Assembly told the commission to study the practice and make recommendations before the 2013 session commenced. With that session less than four months away, the commission heard evidence to help make their recommendations.
The theory is that many dealers have switched because they face less severe penalties if caught.
The difference is that Virginia charges a $3 tax on a 10-pack carton of cigarettes, while in New York City, the tax is $58.50 a carton. Broken down to a single pack, a premium pack of cigarettes in Virginia costs about $5.55 whereas in New York, the same pack costs $14.
The tax for a case or 60 cartons of cigarettes is $180 in Virginia versus $3,510 in New York City. That tax, hikes up the price for the consumer.
Profit from just 1,500 cartons could top $100,000 because of the price differences.
The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives showed that a truckload carrying 800 cases of cigarettes could net nearly $4.1 million.
The study found 30 percent of all cigarettes sold in New York City came from out of state and of those, more than 70 percent came from Virginia.
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