State Auditor and Tax Commissioner Uncover Warehouse Containing Estimated $20 Million of Contraband Tobacco

(Jackson, Miss.) Following a joint investigation by the State Auditor’s Office and the Mississippi Tax Commission, an estimated $20 million of contraband tobacco products including approximately one million cartons of discount brand cigarettes were discovered in an undisclosed warehouse in Mississippi on Tuesday, April 14 when agents from the two agencies inspected and secured the facility.

The investigation found the products to be missing Mississippi tobacco tax stamps which are required by state law. The cigarettes have been secured pending further investigation and possible forfeiture in accordance with state law.

“This case continues to be investigated by the State Auditor’s Office and the State Tax Commission,” said State Auditor Stacey Pickering. “We will be coordinating with federal partners at the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) and the US Dept. of Treasury, Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau (TTB). This case continues to be an active and ongoing investigation and the agencies involved continue to work to determine the appropriate actions to protect Mississippi.”

Preliminary estimates of the warehouse contents are approximately 14,265 cases of cigarettes. At the current state tax per pack of .18 cents, it is estimated that the tax owed to the State of Mississippi would be $1.5 million.

“The Tax Commission is taking all steps necessary to make sure that any tax due the state of Mississippi is collected. We are currently investigating to determine how much tax is due and what actions are required to collect that revenue,” said J. Ed Morgan, Commissioner of Revenue.

State Auditor Stacey Pickering Press Release
4/15/9