Two Glendale Residents Sentenced to Federal Prison for Trafficking in Contraband Cigarettes

Dec 21, 2010, 17:08 ET from Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives

THE PAIR RECEIVED 366 DAYS IN FEDERAL PRISON; 3 YEARS SUPERVISED RELEASE, AND ORDERED TO REPAY $280,000

LOS ANGELES, Dec. 21, 2010 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Two Glendale residents were sentenced yesterday to 366 days in federal prison, followed by three years supervised release, and ordered to pay $280,096 in restitution to the state of California for trafficking in contraband cigarettes and conspiracy to traffic in contraband cigarettes.

Grigor Chivitchian, 57, and Sarkis Mkrtchyan, 47, were sentenced by United States District Judge John F. Walter after the defendants pleaded guilty to the charges on September 20.

According to court documents, Chivitchian and Mkrtchyan purchased contraband cigarettes from undercover agents from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, (ATF) posing as cigarette traffickers.  The investigation, which started in 2007, revealed that Chivitchian and Mkrtchyan were not licensed or authorized to purchase or posses untaxed cigarettes in the state of California.  

"Cigarette trafficking, on its face, seems to be a non-violent crime that deprives states of tax revenue.  In reality it is much more.  It is a vehicle and scheme that organized crime groups use to enrich themselves, fund other illegal activities, and expand their control and influence," said John A. Torres, Special Agent in Charge of ATF in Los Angeles.  "In stemming organized tobacco crime, we are not only putting people in prison, but hitting these criminal organizations in the pocketbook.  And, of course, we are ensuring states are more able to collect the tax revenues they are rightly due." 

This investigation was conducted by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives; Glendale Police Department, Los Angeles Sheriff's Office, California Department of Justice, and the Los Angeles Police Department and was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorneys Ariel Neuman and Amanda Bettinelli.

More information about ATF and its programs is available at www.atf.gov.  

Contact:  Special Agent Christian Hoffman, PIO

Office:  (818) 265-2507

Cell:     (213) 216-3622

christian.hoffman@atf.gov



SOURCE Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives



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