A man from Bayside and five others could each face up to 10 years in prison for allegedly conspiring to traffic over $30 million in contraband cigarettes, federal prosecutors announced on Thursday.
The office of United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York announced that the six suspects were arrested on Jan. 23 and are set to appear in court on Jan. 31.
According to the allegations in the indictment, Bayside resident Yue Juan Chen, 41, Brooklyn residents Shao Jun Guo, 42, Shui Ying Lin, 43 and Wo Kit Cheng, 44 and Manhattan residents Jian Jiang Feng and Zhurong Gao, 66 “engaged in a scheme to smuggle and traffic $30 million of untaxed cigarettes in the United States to avoid at least $30 million in taxes.”
Information from the indictment said that the suspects’ illegal activity took place from June 2013 through January 2019.
“As alleged, the defendants trafficked in massive quantities of contraband cigarettes, defrauding city, state, and federal governments of millions of dollars in tax revenue,” said U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York Geoffrey S. Berman. “That is lost tax revenue that would be used to fund research into cancer and other smoking-related illnesses, and to fund cessation and anti-smoking programs. These defendants’ alleged scheme to make millions, cheat taxing authorities, and deny funds for healthcare programs has gone up in smoke.”
The individuals have been charged with one count of conspiracy to traffic contraband cigarettes, and one count of trafficking contraband cigarettes. Each charge carries a maximum prison sentence of five years.