Hire a Lawyer Who Knows the Federal Tobacco Laws
U.S. Code Chapter §2E4.1 on Trafficking in Contraband Cigarettes and Smokeless Tobacco defines contraband cigarettes as an amount higher than 10,000 cigarettes with no clarity on whether state or local cigarette taxes were paid. This clarity can come from a lack of a stamp, indentation, or other sign-on packages or containers of cigarettes.
Trafficking in contraband tobacco products is illegal on a federal level. Furthermore, federal tobacco laws outlaw the sale of counterfeit tobacco products that remove tax payments and are sold at lower prices to consumers.
The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF) is the agency that enforces federal tobacco laws with a focus on the Contraband Cigarette Trafficking Act.
If you were caught participating in the sale or manufacturing of illegal tobacco products, you would benefit from the help of criminal defense consultants and experienced attorneys from the Zoukis Consulting Group to navigate this legal arena.
Why Is Tobacco Regulated in the United States?
In a worldwide effort to reduce the amount of tobacco consumption that could cause harmful effects on health, local and federal governments began enforcing higher taxes on tobacco products, making them one of the highest-taxed products on the market. This helped reduce the amount of tobacco people purchased worldwide and also helped regulate nicotine use.
However, the high taxes and large tax differentials between different jurisdictions also created a rise in tax avoidance or evasion when it came to tobacco products. This has led to $2.95 billion and $6.92 billion in lost gross state and local tax revenues.
What Is Considered Tobacco Contraband?
Tobacco contraband can come in many different forms. To fully know your charge and to receive the guidance of a private federal criminal defense attorney, it’s important to know the difference.
The ATF lists the following illegal activities as tobacco contraband:
- Both illegal transportation and possession or distribution of equal to or over 10,000 unstamped (non-state tax-paid) cigarettes
- Both illegal transportation and possession or distribution of other tobacco products (OTP) such as smokeless tobacco
In addition, the ATF enforces the Prevent All Cigarette Trafficking (PACT) Act, which requires the following:
- Anyone distributing cigarettes or smokeless tobacco that is advertising or selling the products in interstate commerce must register with and report to the ATF with specific information. They must also report to the tax administrators of the states where the tobacco shipments are being advertised or made.
- Those who are selling tobacco that ship to end-users must follow up with established reporting, delivering and recordkeeping requirements, labeling, and establish a list of non-compliant delivery sellers.
Aside from these regulations, creating, selling, or owning counterfeit tobacco products are also considered illegal.
Federal Tobacco Laws
The Zoukis Consulting Group has experience representing defendants charged with trafficking contraband cigarettes. The Prevent All Cigarette Trafficking (PACT) Act has been in place as part of federal tobacco laws since June 29, 2010.
Any person in charge of selling, shipping, or transporting tobacco must be registered with the ATF agency. This particular law increases penalties of tobacco trafficking to being charged as a felony for around three years of prison time.
In addition, 18 U.S. Code Section 2344 states that a knowing violation of contraband tobacco trafficking can lead to:
- A maximum of five years of imprisonment
- Fines of varying amounts
Furthermore, contraband tobacco products are forfeited and will be either destroyed or used for undercover investigative purposes. However, with an experienced criminal defense team from the Zoukis Consulting Group, your charges of trafficking contraband cigarettes should be reduced or eliminated.
We Can Fight Your Federal Contraband Cigarettes Charges
At the Zoukis Consulting Group, we know that everyone deserves the best representation in court regardless of the criminal acts they were charged with by authorities.
Have you been charged with a federal crime related to the trafficking of contraband cigarettes and other tobacco products? Don’t fight this battle alone.
The team at Zoukis Consulting Group has years of experience working with those awaiting trial and are looking to give you the help and advice you deserve. Our team of federal criminal defense lawyers can advise you on the best moves to take.
Not only can we help represent you at your trial, but we can appeal a conviction as well.
With help from the Zoukis Consulting Group, you may have your charges dropped or reduced. Don’t hesitate to contact us today.
Published Feb 15, 2022 by Christopher Zoukis, JD, MBA | Last Updated by Christopher Zoukis, JD, MBA on Feb 15, 2022 at 12:27 pm