Contraband Cigarettes, Alcohol Costing Maryland Millions

ANNAPOLIS, Md. (WJZ) — Maryland’s comptroller steps up enforcement of tax laws, announcing that cigarette, alcohol and fuel violations are on the rise. 

Political reporter Pat Warren reports on the impact on the state economy.

Contraband cigarettes and black market beer, wine and liquor are costing the state millions.

“Yeah, we confiscated 180,000 packs of cigarettes like this.  It is more appealing to criminals to smuggle cigarettes than it is to smuggle heroin,” said State Comptroller Peter Franchot.

Enforcement agents issued 110 cigarette violations in the 2011 fiscal year, which ends Thursday.  They confiscated more than 181,000 packs of cigarettes valued at a million dollars, more than twice the number seized last year.

“They can buy this with no tax or very small tax in southern states.  They bring it to Maryland where we have a significant cigarette tax or they take it to New York where they have a really high cigarette tax and they make a ton of money,” he said.

With its two dollar tax on a pack of cigarettes, that ought to be Maryland’s ton of money.

“Two days ago, the state police pulled a guy over on 301 in southern Maryland for a traffic violation and said, `Hey, what are all those cigarettes in your car?’  The guy had 7,000 packs of cigarettes that he was smuggling into the state.  Well, he’s in jail, the car is confiscated, the cigarettes are here,” Franchot said.

The state loses money on black market alcohol, as well.  In 12 months, agents confiscated 320 gallons of liquor and nearly 4,000 containers of beer valued at almost $50,000.

“The real money is in the cigarette smuggling and we are rising to the occasion,” Franchot said.

Enforcement agents expect the new Maryland alcohol tax increase that takes effect Friday to stimulate more illegal activity.  The comptroller says his office is ready for it.

The comptroller’s office keeps the contraband until the cases are heard.  If the defendant is found guilty, it’s either sold to retailers or destroyed.

More from Pat Warren
Comments

One Comment

  1. LUCKY LOU says:

    LOOKING OUT FOR THE TRURE AMERICANS

  2. Dani says:

    Whose fault is this? Keep raising taxes and this will happen more and more. I buy my stuff south too for personal use when I travel cause they keep ripping me off here. And don’t make me start with when I travel international and can buy stuff tax free. I stock up for months!

    1. Kimberly Blackwell says:

      I ALSO BUY MY CIGARETTES ELSEWHERE Y IN THE HELL WOULD I PAY 60.00 FOR A CARTON OF CIGARETTES HERE WHEN I CAN GO ELSEWARE AND BUY THEM FOR 30.00-40.00 ITS ALL ABOUT MARYLAND MARYLANDS A FREAKIN JOKE HMMM I WONDER IF OUR SO GOODY 2-SHOES PRESIDENT HAS TO PAY TAXES,RENT,ETC…YOU NO BY LAW UR ALOUD TO BRING BACK 3 CARTONS OF CIGARETTES OVER THE MD LINE FOR PERSONAL USE ANYWAY SO WAT THE F$%#!!!!OUR GOVT IS THE LAUGHING STOCK OF THE NATION!!!

  3. Sheam says:

    Went to the Caribbean and my perferd brand of cigarettes cost $25.00 there. Here they are 75.00 a carton. My heart bleeds for the state of Maryland. I should have bought four more cartons so I could have ripped the state of more tax dollars.

  4. Pennyless says:

    Maryland will fall like ROME!

  5. Broke says:

    Keep on raising those taxes…….You are losing more revenue than you were hoping to gain in the first place!

  6. KottaMan says:

    Another red herring argument from the state. Virtually every large-quantity bust for cigs involves an out of state person, usually from NY, NJ, or CT “traveling through” on their way back northbound. They are looking to sell the smokes up there where the prices are sky high and not sell them here in MD. No tax “lost” here if they aren’t selling the stuff here. To raise revenue, why not change the sales tax law in MD and start taxing legal services along with burglar alarm companies and the rest of the “common folk?”

  7. Upset Maryland citizen says:

    I have a question: What is this lost revenue supposed to support?

    I suppose this is why the tolls need to be raised, since we are losing tons of money in Maryland.

    Oh wait, I know, let’s subsidize the tutition of illegal immigrants’ college education!

  8. Robert Long says:

    I never buy anything in maryland anymore. I always shop online to avoid tax. And out of state to avoid tax. And the prices they charge here in this state. It’s insane!. I never buy any of those thing’s here and never will. And from what i hear every single person i ever talk to does also. The only time they buy local is if they need a quick pack or something to make it to else where. So this state is costing it’s self million’s because they are nothing but 100% pure idiot’s!

  9. Ex Democrat says:

    Maybe the state should tax money orders at the store. We could get millions from the ILLEGALS that send there money south of the border. Sounds like a win win situation to me. How about it O’Malley Busch and Miller. You tax the hell out of Maryland citizens. Why not the ILLEGALS.

  10. Charley says:

    That is the result of MD high taxes. People will change their behaviour accordingly. I buy all of my clothes at the Outlet malls in Rehoboth DE, saving money on the clothes and on the MD 6% sales tax. I buy cigarettes for my brother when I am in DE, VA, or NC. The cigs cost around $55.00 a carton here, but only $33.00 to $40.00 in the other states. I pay enough in income tax. alcohol tax, property tax, gas tax, tolls, etc. to the State. I don’t need to pay anymore

  11. George Mayo says:

    the kennedys made their money from smuggling, should be good for the rest of the little people in the good ol US OF A.

  12. Defeat Franchot in 2014 for any office says:

    Franchot can kiss my a*s*s* 2014 is coming peter and your 8 years of terror will be over. We don’t need any stupid comptroller lets let that dummy Nancy Kopp be the head CEO and lets see how much more worse Maryland Maryland will be.

  13. outkasts says:

    So many laws that it makes us all criminals.Duplin Wine is sold in DC but not in maryland.I told that maryland makes it a felony to bring it across the line?

    1. Defeat Franchot in 2014 for any office says:

      I’m going to DC and sneaking the wine back on amtrak. franchot is a moron

    2. Defeat Franchot in 2014 for any office says:

      Duplin Wine is legal in maryland.

  14. Defeat Franchot in 2014 for any office says:

    Franchot is a idiot. All those who voted for slots should of defeated Franchot because he opposed slots.

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