Illegal cigarette investigation leads to arrest of Flushing family for illegal hotel operation

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Photo courtesy of Queens District Attorney's office
Photo courtesy of Queens District Attorney's office

An illegal cigarette trafficking investigation led to an illegal hotel bust in Flushing.

The investigation of an illegal cigarette trafficking operation led to the arrest of a Flushing family that was allegedly running an illegal hotel out of the home next door.

During the investigation of allegations of illegal cigarettes being sold out of a Saull Street residence, detectives noticed unusual activity going on at the two-family house next door, according to District Attorney Richard Brown.  Multiple people were observed leaving the home with suitcases, and after further investigation, officials discovered that the residence was being advertised as a hotel on Chinese language websites.

Following a year-long investigation, a search warrant was executed on the home Thursday and Qiumin He, 55, his wife, Chun Y Tu, 56, and their son, Xiaoshan He, 34, who all live at the home, were arrested.  They are currently awaiting arraignment and have been charged with second-degree reckless endangerment, according to Brown. Xiaoshan has also been charged with second-degree obstructing governmental administration for allegedly interfering with the arrests. They face up to one year in jail if convicted.

During yesterday’s search of the alleged illegal hotel, Department of Buildings inspectors were present as well as inspectors assigned to the New York City Fire Department, who found “numerous egregious violations, including insufficient egress and lack of required sprinkler systems and fire alarms and no exit signs,” said Brown. DOB inspectors had tried to enter the home several times over the last year, but weren’t allowed inside.

The family’s neighbor, Qinghai Wei, 50, is also awaiting arraignment on charges alleging that he possessed approximately 1,151 cartons of untaxed American and illegal Asian cigarettes, which were found during a court-authorized search of his home. He faces up to four years in prison if convicted.