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News Release

Friday, April 25, 2003

Media Relations

LA Community Reaps Benefits of Seizure of Contraband Cigarettes


 

WHO: Los Angeles Police Chief William J. Bratton, USDOJ Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco Firearms and Explosives Special Agent In-charge Donald Kincaid, and LAPD and ATF Investigating Officers.

WHAT: Joint Press Conference Between the Los Angeles Police Department and Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco Firearms and Explosives

WHEN: Friday, April 25, 2003, 8:00 a.m.

WHERE: In Front of World Trade Center,
350 South Figueroa Street, Los Angeles

Los Angeles: The Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) and the Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco Firearms and Explosives (ATF) will hold a joint press conference, during which time the Bureau will present Los Angeles Chief of Police William Bratton with a check in the amount of $101,012.18, representative of the Department’s share as a result of a forfeiture investigation.

On July 12, 2001, LAPD Rampart Area Detectives received an anonymous tip regarding the sales and possession of various cigarette brands without tax stamps. Rampart Detectives then contacted LAPD Narcotics Division, Central Bureau Field Enforcement Section and apprised them of the tip. As a result of the subsequent investigation, a search warrant was obtained and served at the apartment of Mercedes Soto, a 43 year-old female Hispanic and resident of Los Angeles. Investigating officers discovered 989 cartons of various cigarette brands without stamps, $126,765.22 in cash, and 12 sheets of counterfeit California tax stamps. Soto admitted that her apartment was used as a distribution point for sellers of cigarettes and a collection point for proceeds from cigarette sales.

In light of the federal implications of this case, LAPD detectives contacted their counterparts at the Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco Firearms and Explosives to request their assistance. Soto was arrested for violating California State Revenue and Tax Code Section 30474. She was sentenced to 36 months of probation and fined $10,800 after pleading guilty to the state charge.

This media advisory was prepared by Public Information Officer Adriana N. Sanchez, Media Relations Section, 213-485-3586.