Cigarette Smuggling: Federal Law Enforcement Efforts and Seizures Increasing

GAO-04-641 Published: May 28, 2004. Publicly Released: Jun 28, 2004.
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Illegal trafficking in cigarettes can generate enormous profits and is purportedly a multibillion dollar a year enterprise. As cigarette taxes increase, so do the incentives for criminal organizations to smuggle cigarettes into the United States. Cigarette smuggling results in lost tax revenues, undermines government health policy objectives, can attract sophisticated and organized criminal groups, and could be a source of funding for terrorists. Because of these concerns, GAO examined (1) the nature and scope of the problem of smuggled cigarettes entering the United States, including federal tax revenue losses and potential health risks; (2) federal law enforcement agencies'--U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP), and Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF)--efforts to thwart the smuggling of cigarettes into the United States; and (3) legal initiatives being pursued to enhance law enforcement efforts to thwart the smuggling of cigarettes into the United States.

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