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Photo courtesy of NYS Tax Department
Photo courtesy of NYS Tax Department
Some of the cigarette cartons and $18,000 in cash seized by law enforcement agents from an Elmhurst man on March 22.

An Elmhurst man was booked earlier this month for attempting to deliver more than 180 cartons of untaxed cigarettes to a Flushing store for eventual sale, prosecutors announced on Thursday.

Minyan Zhu, 30, of 80th Street was busted on March 22 as a result of an enforcement operation conducted by the State Tax Department’s Cigarette Strike Force, the Queens District Attorney’s office and other law enforcement agencies.

According to the Tax Department, members of the Strike Force had Zhu under surveillance and witnessed him loading three parcels into a vehicle on March 22. They then followed him a short distance before stopping and searching the vehicle.

Prosecutors recovered approximately 183 cartons of untaxed cigarettes as well as more than $18,000 in cash as a result of the bust. Zhu was arrested on charges of grand larceny and being in possession of unstamped cigarettes.

Law enforcement sources said the cigarettes were to have been sold at a store in the vicinity of Northern Boulevard and Utopia Parkway.

Queens District Attorney Richard A. Brown said that the sale of untaxed cigarettes in New York State is not a victimless crime.

“The sale of untaxed cigarettes is an illegal business venture that cheats the city and state out of much needed tax revenue,” Brown said. “As a result, tobacco bootleggers make victims of honest taxpayers by forcing them to dig deeper into their own pockets in order to pay higher taxes and make it impossible for legitimate businesses to compete.”

“Thanks to the sharing of intelligence and cooperation among multiple law enforcement agencies, more contraband cigarettes are off the streets,” added Acting Commission Nonie Manion. “We will continue to work with these partners to arrest those who blatantly disregard the law.”

According to court records, Zhu was released without bail following his March 23 arraignment and is due back in court on April 25.

The investigation is ongoing.

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