Feds, State Bust Up Massive Alleged L.A. ... Tobacco Ring? Yep, Tobacco.

Comments (0)


Tue, Aug 10, 2010 at 12:10 PM

click to enlarge 220px_Four_cigars.jpg
Retro: State and federal authorities up and down California and over to Vegas have busted up a big non-cigarette tobacco ring that allegedly avoided paying taxes -- $35 million in California excise taxes.

A bevy of state and federal agencies were involved in the three-year investigation, racking up 15 arrests and indictments of three businesses.

The suspects allegedly used dummy corporations, fake invoices and falsified excise tax forms to avoid paying taxes on cigars, chewing tobacco and other non-cigarette tobacco products. The government has seized more than $1 million in tobacco products and has begun civil forfeiture on more than $20 million in assets.

To get an idea of how big this ring allegedly was, note the disparate locales of the suspects and their operations: Vegas, Chicago, Carson, North Hollywood, Burbank, Los Angeles, El Cajon.

This calls to mind Henry Hill's first "pinch" in "Goodfellas" for selling tobacco out of a car trunk. After an obviously dirty judge lets him off, Robert DeNiro's Jimmy Conway tells Hill that he learned the two greatest lessons in life: "Never rat on your friends, and always keep your mouth shut." To us these always seemed like variations on the same lesson, but still, a great line.

Related Content

Now Trending

  • U.S. Reps Call For Federal Intervention in Dodger TV Blackout

    A group of local U.S. representatives wants the Federal Communications Commission to help end Time Warner Cable's blackout of Dodger games for competing cable and satellite providers. Negotiations to bring the team's games to AT&T U-verse, Charter Communications, Cox Communications, DirecTV, Dish Network, Mediacom, Suddenlink Communications and Verizon FIOS have gotten...
  • Foster the People's Downtown L.A. Mural Is Coming Down

    The controversial Foster the People mural downtown is coming down, the office of L.A. Mayor Eric Garcetti announced today. Despite claims by the pop band that it had necessary permits and that the artwork was legitimately produced, the mayor's office states what we reported previously: The piece is on a...
  • Dodgers Keep the Kids, Come Up Empty at Trade Deadline

    Twenty-six years is a long time between pennants. Unacceptably long; the longest period without a World Series appearance in Dodgers franchise history. That’s L.A. and Brooklyn. Of course, 1988 was glorious, but there is a large and growing continent of L.A. fans who just cannot look at the brake lights...
Los Angeles Concert Tickets


  • Street League Skateboarding Super Crown World Championship
    On Sunday, Street League Skateboarding touched down in the Galen Center at USC as part of a four-stop tour for SLS's Super Crown World Championship. The L.A. stop determined the roster for Super Crown, airing August 24th on FOX Sports 1. The final eight are Nyjah Huston, Luan Oliveira, Torey Pudwill, Shane O'Neill, Paul Rodriguez, Chaz Ortiz, Matt Berger and Ishod Wair. All photos by Nanette Gonzales.
  • Comic-Con's "Celebrity" Autograph Area
    A sometimes overlooked (but still incredibly unique) aspect of San Diego Comic-Con are the celebs available to sign autographs, as well as the autograph seekers themselves. If you've ever wanted to meet the Soup Nazi from Seinfeld or the guy who played Michelangelo in the original Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, chances are, as you wander the Autograph Area, you'll be able to connect with someone you didn't even realize you were waiting your whole life to meet! All photos by Rob Inderrieden.
  • Real Madrid Soccer Practice at UCLA
    Fans came out to greet world champion soccer team Real Madrid as they practice at UCLA. This is the first time that soccer star Cristiano Ronaldo has practiced with the team this year. All photos by Jeff Cowan.