Share this article

print logo

Senecas staging cigarette crackdown

The Seneca Nation, the target of state officials eager to tax "illegal" cigarettes, is staging its own crackdown on contraband smokes.

The nation confiscated 65,000 cartons of cigarettes from a retailer on the Allegany reservation last month and fined the Seneca an undisclosed six-figure amount.

The fine and seizure are believed to be the first time the nation has acted against a retailer selling cigarettes and tobacco without an official Seneca stamp.

"Retailers who ignore the Seneca Nation law put their business licenses and products at risk," Nation President Maurice A. John Sr. said in a statement Thursday.

The nation's action against the retailer, which it declined to name, comes at a time when the Senecas and state are involved in a dispute over untaxed cigarettes sold on Indian land.

Gov. Eliot L. Spitzer would like the state to collect taxes on cigarettes sold on the reservation but so far has declined to enforce a state law requiring the taxation of cigarettes sold to non-Indians.

The Senecas, as part of their crackdown last week, also prohibited Giant Consulting of Amherst and two individuals, Tommy and James Gianturco, from doing any business with Seneca wholesalers and retailers on nation land.

"The Seneca Nation will not tolerate activities that jeopardize our treaty-protected rights of self-determination," John said Thursday.

The Gianturcos and representatives of Giant Consulting could not be reached to comment.

Under nation law, only Seneca-licensed stamping agents are allowed to possess unstamped cigarettes. The stamp indicates the cigarettes have been subject to an import fee levied by the Senecas.

Cigarettes not bearing a nation stamp are considered contraband and are subject to seizure and forfeiture.


There are no comments - be the first to comment