Jamestown Man Charged With Smuggling 400 Packs Of Cigarettes

A Jamestown man was taken into custody Friday after smuggling more than 400 packs of untaxed cigarettes.

James A. Chapman, 33, was found inside his 275 S. Main St. upper apartment shortly before 11 a.m., the result of an ongoing investigation by Jamestown Police into the illegal sale of untaxed cigarettes in the area.

Police, in addition to seizing the more than 400 packs of cigarettes, seized an illegal throwing star inside the apartment.

Chapman was charged with fourth-degree criminal possession of a weapon and a New York State Tax Law charge for the selling of untaxed cigarettes – a misdemeanor.

He was transported to the city jail and arraigned in Jamestown City Court.

According to a recent study by the Tax Foundation, 57 percent of cigarettes in New York state are illegally smuggled from other states, making it the largest importer of illegal cigarettes in the country.

This, of course, correlates with New York’s cigarette tax of $4.35 – the highest in the country – which makes it a prime target for smugglers in Virginia or North Carolina where cigarette taxes are 30 and 45 cents, respectively.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo, in response to this, called for a Cigarette Strike Force, a multi-agency force composed of federal, state and local agencies equipped to stymie the influx of illegal cigarettes.

“This new law enforcement strategy will help to crack down on these illegal cigarette sales and capture those smugglers who seek to evade the law and rob the state of the revenue it is rightly owed, thereby putting an additional burden on law-abiding taxpayers,” Cuomo said.

The Cattaraugus County Sheriff’s Department is included in the strike force.

The New York field division of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms indicated that cigarette smuggling is not a rampant problem in Chautauqua County compared to other counties in New York state, an assessment echoed by the Sheriff’s Office and the Jamestown Police Department.

“When you compare it to our drug problem, it’s not at a big level,” said Captain Robert F. Samuelson, division commander of the Jamestown Police Department.