Two arrested in illegal cigarette bust

Two men are accused of selling a combined 460 cartons of illegal cigarettes.

State investigators announced Monday they had nabbed two suspects who were allegedly making thousands of dollars on illegal cigarettes.

The two men, who were picked up in Queens and Brooklyn last Thursday, sold a combined 460 cartons of illegal cigarettes, according to the state tax department’s Cigarette Strike Force.

Difaa M. Saleh, 35, was arrested in Richmond Hill and arraigned on several charges including possession for sale of untaxed cigarettes and attempting to evade the New York state and New York City cigarette tax. Investigators seized 300 cartons of branded cigarettes that were tax-stamped in Virginia and not New York.

At the same time, investigators arrested Luciano Evaristo Hernandez-Fernandez, 57, in Cypress Hills and arranged him on criminal possession of a forged instrument, possession and transport for sale of more than 30,000 cigarettes, and attempt to evade city and state cigarette taxes.

The task force searched his Brooklyn home and confiscated 160 cartons of untaxed cigarettes, 10,563 cigars, and more than 14,000 counterfeit cigarette tax stamps.

Both suspects, who combined illegal cigarettes were valued at $46,000, were released on their own recognizance and are awaiting court dates, the state tax department said.

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