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Connecticut Tax Officials Make Major Contraband Tobacco Bust

Nate Gagnon
Contraband tobacco products being taken away from A&R Wholesale in Meriden
"The state of Connecticut and Connecticut taxpayers are the ones really taking the hit on this."<br><em>Patrick Bernardo</em>

More than two truckloads of contraband tobacco products and $120,000 have been seized by Connecticut tax officials, after a four-month investigation into illegal tobacco sales. 

Three men have been charged with selling untaxed cigarettes and other products, after the bust at a Meriden distributor.

Department of Revenue Services enforcement officers worked with the FBI and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms to make the discovery at A&R Wholesale.  

Patrick Bernardo of the DRS said it was the base of a highly organized operation.

"Individuals traveled to Pennsylvania, where they can buy tax-free tobacco product," Bernardo told a news conference at the warehouse. "They were going down there twice a week, with about $100,000 to $120,000. So add that up: we’re looking at $800,000 a month going to Pennsylvania to buy product, to come back here, and supply over 100 businesses in Connecticut. The state of Connecticut and Connecticut taxpayers are the ones really taking the hit on this."

Credit Nate Gagnon / WNPR
Enforcement officials at work at A&R Wholesale.

DRS officials say additional arrests are expected as the investigation continues.

The department set up a special Tobacco Enforcement Unit in January specifically to target this type of fraud.

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