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Queens Chronicle

Cops: illegal cigs ‘pedaled’ from bike

Second arrest is made in Flushing in month; carries 4-year sentence

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Posted: Thursday, November 7, 2013 10:30 am

A second arrest in less than a month for illegal trafficking of contraband cigarettes was made in Flushing last week.

This time, the seller allegedly used an electric bicycle to peddle his wares of Asian and American smokes from his home.

Arrested was Tiezhao Jiao, 59, of 41st Avenue, who was arraigned on various state tax law violations. If convicted, he faces up to four years in prison.

Queens District Attorney Richard Brown said just counting the cigarettes seized during execution of a search warrant at Jiao’s residence, more than $83,000 in tax revenue would have been lost had they been sold by the defendant.

Brown also noted that it is illegal to sell Asian-brand cigarettes in the United States because they do not carry the required surgeon general’s warnings.

Detectives recovered 1,248 cartons of cigarettes, $16,502 in cash and $152 found in the defendant’s pocket.

Jiao allegedly told police that he had been selling cigarettes for two years and that his U.S. smokes come from a Flushing connection who has them bused up from the South. He allegedly told detectives that he makes $5 profit per carton, selling the American brands for $55 a carton and the Chinese cigarettes, from the same dealer, for $25.

Earlier in the month, police arrested Qinghai Wei, 50, of Saull Street, whom they had under suveillance for some time. They recovered 1,150 cartons of American and Asian cigarettes from Wei’s home. He was arrested and faces similar charges as Jiao.

Brown said that cigarette smuggling cheats taxpayers who must pay higher taxes. “And it cheats the government ... ,” he added.

While investigating Wei, police discovered that his next-door neighbors were allegedly running an illegal hotel from their home. The couple and their son were also arrested.

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