NBC Evening News for Tuesday, Sep 20, 1977
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(Studio) Bootleg cigarette operation by organized crime is of awesome size and enormous profit. Criminals get away with it.
REPORTER: John Chancellor
(NYC) Org. crime makes big profit by buying cigarettes wholesale in states where tobacco is grown, North Carolina, Kentucky and Virginia, and taking them to states where cigarette taxes are higher, yet Mafia pays no taxes on cigarettes, therefore making big profit. Police say one site of Mafia purchasing is in small North Carolina town; film being shown was shot by news team with concealed camera. Reporter interviews man who is underworld figure and also undercover operative for federal government [MAN - says cigarette smuggling is popular because there's little risk and great profit. Describes methods used to smuggle cigarettes using fruit trucks from Florida.] Half of all cigarettes sold in New York City are smuggled and it's almost impossible for customer to know if he's buying illegal packs, as mob counterfeits own tax stamps. Tax losses from cigarette smuggling in New York, Texas and Florida, as well as overall US fig., noted. Law enforcement officers have done little to halt smuggling; in Pennsylvania, 2 tax officers spent 2 days following suspected smugglers, but on making arrest, got only 7 cartons. Officials acknowledge Mafia operates smuggling ring with little chance of being caught. Fears are that organized crime will soon control entire cigarette ind. [Brown and Williamson Tobacco Company chairperson Joe EDENS - feels criminal elements could take over industry completely.] [MAN - says bosses could be almost anyone, as there's not one chief boss; notes many recent killings.] Gangland-style slayings have been happening frequently in battle for control of smuggling operation and many wslers. in New York City have been forced out of business or hire armed guards to protect workers. All efforts to lower taxes and stop racket have failed; almost