THOUSANDS OF UNLICENSED CIGARETTES FOUND IN HIDDEN WALL
Thursday, February 28, 2013
—Nearly 5,000 packs of unlicensed cigarettes were discovered behind a false wall during a routine inspection today at a Chicago market, Cook County Sheriff Thomas J. Dart said.
Cook County Sheriff’s Police and inspectors with Cook County Department of Revenue made the find around 12:15 p.m. today while checking to make sure cigarettes being sold at Tom’s Food Mart, 3553 West Roosevelt Road in Chicago, included proper tax stamps.
While officers and inspectors entered the store front, they noticed a man passing through a false wall. This false wall was situated behind a bookcase in an area that was closed off, but not locked. The opening in the false wall led to a storage area where a total of 4,977 packs of cigarettes were found without county stamps.
It is the largest find this year and one of the largest discoveries of unlicensed cigarettes inspectors have found to date. The cigarettes were confiscated by the Department of Revenue.
The owner of Tom’s Food Mart has been fined $128,425 by the county.
In Cook County, cigarettes and other tobacco items sold to the public are subject to county and state taxes. As of tomorrow, March 1, 2013 the county tax portion is $3 for each pack of cigarettes sold.
Business owners found to be selling cigarettes without the tax stamp are subject to fines. Sheriff Dart has deployed officers from Sheriff’s Police to conduct enforcement with Cook County Department of Revenue inspectors through routine checks to ensure Cook County businesses are selling properly taxed cigarettes.
The County collected approximately $1.3 million in cigarette tax fines last year.