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Authorities Recover Nearly $2M In Counterfeit Cigarettes, Viagra Bust

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LOS ANGELES (CBS) — Authorities have recovered nearly $2 million in counterfeit cigarettes and Viagra in a multi-city bust, it was announced Tuesday.

More than $1.8 million in counterfeit cigarettes and nearly $100,000 in phony Viagra pills were seized Monday when officials served search warrants in Rosemead, Montebello, South El Monte and areas of East Los Angeles.

The drugs and cigarettes were imported illegally into the Los Angeles-area and then sold, officials said.

“Investigators also found counterfeit tax stamps from the states of California, Arizona, Minnesota, New York and New Jersey. The bogus tax stamps are used to avoid paying State and Federal cigarette taxes,” sheriff’s officials said.

The phony tax stamps are used to avoid paying State and Federal cigarette taxes, which could have potentially resulted in the loss of $560,000 in government taxes, according to authorities.

counterfeit seizure money Authorities Recover Nearly $2M In Counterfeit Cigarettes, Viagra Bust

(credit: Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department)

More than $110,000 in cash was also recovered from a residence involved in the search.

The bust was the result of a more than 12-month investigation done in partnership with the Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, the FBI and the Board of Equalization.

The raids resulted in the arrest of a 42-year-old woman and 37-year-old man for sales and distribution of counterfeit merchandise. Both suspects face up to three years in prison and $1 million in fines if convicted, officials said.

“Counterfeiting and piracy impact public safety by funding organized crime, street gangs, and even terrorism through the sales of these counterfeit products. Criminals engaged in counterfeiting products cost society billions of dollars in lost government revenues, foreign investments and local business profits,” Los Angeles County Sheriff Lee Baca said in a statement.

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