Mother and son charged in illegal cigarette scheme

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A Flushing mother and son duo was arrested last Tuesday when their alleged cigarette smuggling scheme went up in smoke, authorities said.

Ying-Jian Lin, 48, and her son, Xiao Lin, 23, have been charged with violating various state tax laws after investigators seized 677 cartons of untaxed Asian brand cigarettes and $132,000 in cash from their possession on November 20, according to District Attorney Richard A. Brown.

“Cigarette smuggling to evade state and local taxes is a multimillion dollar industry,” Brown said. “However, it cheats taxpayers who must dip into their pockets to pay higher taxes, and it cheats the government as well by fueling an underground economy which does not pay much needed state and city taxes.”

Detectives said Xiao Lin was repeatedly spotted during a multiple-week investigation entering a 134-24 Maple Avenue garage, removing cartons of Asian brand cigarettes, and then transporting them to a small grocery store on Main Street, where his mother worked.

Ying-Jian Lin then allegedly sold the cigarettes on several occasions at the store, the district attorney said.

According to Brown, it is illegal to sell Asian brand cigarettes in the state, and even the country, because they do not carry the required surgeon general warnings.

“In today’s case, it is alleged that the defendants were seeking to shortchange New York State and New York City out of approximately $45,000 in tax revenue from [Tuesday’s] seizure alone,” Brown said.

The Lins — who live on Sanford Avenue — were arraigned in Queens Criminal Court last Tuesday and could face up to four years in prison. They are slated to return to court on January 8.