Attorney General Becerra Announces Arraignment in Southern California Tobacco Smuggling Scheme
SACRAMENTO – California Attorney General Xavier Becerra today announced the arraignment of Tamur Rajput for alleged money laundering and filing false tax returns in connection with a tobacco smuggling scheme. An investigation by the multiagency Tax Recovery in the Underground Economy (TRUE) Task Force revealed that from at least 2017 to 2018, Rajput smuggled truckloads of tobacco from Pennsylvania to California. Rajput pleaded not guilty today in Los Angeles County Superior Court.
“When people choose to bypass our laws and cheat the system, they take money away from California’s public services and shift a greater burden on our taxpayers to pay for our schools, hospitals, and public safety,” said Attorney General Becerra. “Through our TRUE Taskforce, the California Department of Justice is always ready to enforce our laws against bad actors.”
In 2018, TRUE began an investigation of alleged importation of contraband tobacco into California by TAS Distributions in Los Angeles County. Over the course of the investigation, it was revealed that TAS Distributions owner, Tamur Rajput, was smuggling tobacco from Pennsylvania to the LA area. In 2017, Rajput allegedly sold over $2 million worth of tobacco, but reported less than $9,000 to the California Department of Tax and Fee Administration – evading nearly $650,000 in excise tax.
In January, Rajput was charged in a seven-count complaint for filing false excise tax returns and money laundering for allegedly depositing over $1.9 million into multiple bank accounts from the sale of contraband tobacco
The TRUE Task Force was created to ensure multi-agency collaboration and to combat wage theft, tax evasion, and other crimes in the underground economy. The task force consists of attorneys, investigators, and special agents from the California Department of Justice, the California Department of Tax and Fee Administration, the California Franchise Tax Board, and the California Employment Development Department.
It is important to note that every defendant is presumed innocent until proven guilty.
A copy of the complaint is available here.