Queens cops find cartons of untaxed cigarettes after stopping driver for cellphone violation

A pyramid of untaxed cigarettes seized in a previous police operation.
Photo via Twitter/@NYPD113Pct

Taking a call behind the wheel was a big mistake for an alleged cigarette smuggler busted in South Jamaica on Thursday night with a cache of untaxed smokes, police announced.

Officers from the 113th Precinct observed Yunus Latis, 52, of 101st Avenue in Ozone Park using a cellphone while driving a 2008 green Toyota SUV at the intersection of Rockaway Boulevard and the Van Wyck Expressway northbound service road at around 8 p.m. on March 2.

Law enforcement sources said the officers topped Latis’ car and checked his license, which they learned had been suspended. In questioning the suspect, police noted, Latis allegedly told them he had a large number of cigarettes in his vehicle which he was planning to sell.

The officers would then find 520 packs — 10,000 cigarettes in all — inside the vehicle; each of the packs were found to have tax stamps from Virginia that were later determined to be counterfeit.

Latis was booked on charges including criminal possession of a forged instrument, cigarette tax evasion, possession and sale of untaxed cigarettes, aggravated unlicensed operator and various moving and equipment violations.

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