|Jump to full article: St. Thomas Source, 2001-11-19|
Author: Jim Day
A raid Monday on a warehouse in Lindbergh Bay led to the seizure of 60,000 cartons of cigarettes and the arrest of a man wanted in California on charges of running a multi-million dollar counterfeit cigarette-stamp business.
Agents with the V.I. Justice Department, along with California law-enforcement officers and agents with the U.S. Customs Service, arrested Samir Anastas, 56, on Monday morning on a warrant issued in California.
Anastas is charged in Los Angeles County with using forged cigarette stamps, sale of unstamped cigarettes and making false reports, according to the warrant.
He is being held on St. Thomas in lieu of $2.8 million bail.
V.I. Justice Department Agent William Curtis Jr. said Anastas is accused of using a counterfeit cigarette-stamping machine in a scheme that earned about $2.5 million.
Curtis said the scheme involved purchasing foreign-made, name-brand cigarettes and stamping them with the counterfeit stamping machine, thereby avoiding the heavy taxes placed on cigarettes.
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