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Lawmakers are aiming to impose harsher penalties on cigarette traffickers in Virginia, where officials say low excise taxes have made it an attractive base for smugglers.
Comptroller Peter Franchot announced Wednesday that 196 people were charged with tobacco violations in fiscal 2012, which ended July 1. He also says 325,851 packs of cigarettes valued at nearly $2 million were confiscated.
A former Prince George's County police officer has been sentenced to nearly four years in prison for his role in an extortion scheme involving the trafficking of contraband cigarettes and alcohol.
A Customs and Border Protection official referred him to a secondary agricultural inspection, where an X-ray revealed 924 individual packs of cigarettes inside almost all 10 pieces of his luggage.
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