Feds smoke out fake-cigarette racket stinking up Brooklyn

The New York Post
October 14, 2004 Thursday

FEDS SMOKE OUT FAKE-CIG RACKET STINKING UP B’KLYN

KATI CORNELL SMITH

The feds snuffed out an alleged counterfeit-cigarette ring accused of
flooding the streets of Brooklyn with millions of phony Marlboros
imported from China by an L.A. gang, officials said yesterday.

Reputed ringleader Azat “Ozzy” Oganessian, a 33-year-old illegal
immigrant from Armenia, and 13 crew members raked in more than a
million dollars selling bogus smokes over the past two years,
according to court papers filed by Assistant U.S. Attorney Scott
Morvillo.

“This criminal enterprise cheated the state of New York and,
indirectly, New York taxpayers out of more than a million dollars in
tax revenue,” said Pasquale D’Amuro, FBI assistant
director-in-charge.

At least 40,000 cartons of cigarettes manufactured in China – and
packaged to look like Marlboros – were shipped to Chinese gang
members in Los Angeles, law-enforcement sources said.

Oganessian’s Brooklyn-based gang – comprising Polish and Armenian
members – bought the smokes at $10 a carton, or the equivalent of $1
per pack, and trucked them across the country for resale, sources
said.

They affixed New York State tax stamps to the cigarettes and then
tripled the price to between $22 and $32 per carton for sale in delis
and Polish restaurants in Greenpoint and Brighton Beach.

They were purchased by smokers who otherwise would have purchased
approximately $5 million in Marlboros – and generated $1 million in
taxes for the state, the feds estimated.

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