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Local Agencies Involved in ATF Sting Leading to 50 Arrests

The Lawrenceville Police Department, Gwinnett County Sheriff's Department and Gwinnett County District Attorney's Office were involved in the undercover organized tobacco sting.

On Wednesday, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) Atlanta Field Division announced a large-scale sting resulting in 50 warrants and arrests in connection with the illegal trafficking of cigarettes in Georgia.

The ATF worked with officials from the Georgia Attorney General's Office, Georgia Department of Revenue, the Gwinnett County District Attorney's Office, the  and the  in this operation.

The three-year investigation was an attempt to stop criminals from defrauding the state of Georgia out of millions of dollars in tobacco tax revenue.

"Those engaged in the manufacturing and distribution of contraband tobacco products are able to reap substantial profits by avoiding payment of federal and state taxes," said ATF Atlanta Field Division Special Agent in Charge Scott Sweetow in a release. "Using a wide variety of sophisticated techniques, ATF disrupts and eliminates criminal organizations by identifying and arresting offenders who traffic illegal tobacco products. It remains ATF's goal to ensure that all tobacco businesses are competing on a level playing field.  The defendants that were arrested today made it nearly impossible for legitimate businesses to compete and are accused of defrauding the state out of millions of dollars in tax revenue. Those funds could have been used for the betterment of our communities."

"By working together as a cohesive unit, our law enforcement partners were able to identify and apprehend individuals participating in racketeering activity, which included defrauding the state and federal governments of revenue by evading cigarette and cigar excise taxes," said State Attorney General Sam Olens in a release. "These arrests send a strong message that if you do not play by the rules in Georgia, you will be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law."  

Patch reached out to the Lawrenceville Police Department and we received this phone message from Major Paul King explaining why they were selected to participate in this sting:

"We actually have one of our officers in Lawrenceville assigned to an ATF task force and he specifically worked with the group that was involved in this investigation. He had an integral part in the investigation. Also, on top of that, many of the defendants in the case, as well as locations that search warrants were served and arrest warrants were served were in Gwinnett County, therefore our agency was chosen as a place to have a command center, command post to direct all the officers involved so they could report what would happen during the day and supervisors could direct their activities from our agency."

Nicki Mayo October 20, 2011 at 04:24 PM
WOW! Interesting.
Msgoff October 20, 2011 at 05:19 PM
Way to go!! Get the criminals off the street; they affect and cost the taxpayers money with their crimes.
jkinga October 24, 2011 at 12:59 PM
But the real question is...did they spend more tax dollars in this 3 year "sting" then the "criminals" defrauded the state of tax dollars?
Msgoff October 24, 2011 at 06:29 PM
Without the "sting" the criminals would continue to defraud the state. It's like saying how much does it cost to investigate a robbery or a murder? If we don't spend money to investigate and arrest the criminals we would probably have even more crime because there would be no consequences to the criminal. It does cost a lot of money for investigations, trials, etc., but what is an alternative?
Tammy Osier December 19, 2011 at 09:52 PM
jkinka - Exactly where does your logic come from? Seriously, you're thinking solely in monetary terms. Look at today's economy. This sting, while seemingly not important to you since it's tobacco revenue, is very important to our economy when it takes away from legitimate businesses. ATF- alcohol, tobacco and the F stands for FIREARMS. Anyone dealing with ANY kind of criminal activity whether tobacco or firearms will not stop there. Thankfully, Georgia is home of the finest law enforcement in the south and are willing to do a job that doesn't pay them nearly what they're worth.
Tammy Osier December 19, 2011 at 10:01 PM
Just another observation...I've worked with the criminal element for over 20 years, and I've learned that if involved with one crime are probably involved in several other endeavors. It's not likely just one. If you will go back and read the caption (just under the title), the word "organized" is mentioned. What does the words "organized" and "crime" suggest to you? Any crime that is organized is doubtfully making much money organizing just one product. When it comes to crime, you can't think one dimentionally.

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