NEW YORK — Shipping giant UPS delivered nearly 136 million contraband cigarettes across New York State between 2010 and 2014, delivering them directly to consumers and unlicensed dealers, according to lawyers from the state and city.
"UPS has deliberately turned a blind eye to the fact that millions of dollars’ worth of untaxed cigarettes are shipped each year through its facilities," New York City Corporation Counsel Zachary W. Carter said in a press release following a joint complaint filed Wednesday by New York State and New York City in Manhattan Federal court.
Between 2010 and 2014, the shipping company made about 36,000 deliveries of untaxed cigarettes in New York City alone, according to the lawsuit, which seeks a little over $180 million in damages and penalties.
“We allege that the entities that ship these cigarettes through UPS earn enormous profits by avoiding the payment of required taxes and that the fees collected by UPS to ship these untaxed cigarettes are paid out of these illegal profits,” Carter said.
"Today's action is intended to take the profit out of this enterprise for UPS and to seek penalties sufficient to discourage other common carriers from facilitating the illegal sale and delivery of untaxed cigarettes."
The company denied it has knowingly shipped cigarettes to consumers and will vigorously defend its position, a spokeswoman for said.
"UPS tobacco policy strictly prohibits the shipment of cigarettes to consumers and unlicensed dealers or distributors, and we terminate service under that contract program if that policy is violated," UPS Public Relations Director Susan Rosenberg wrote in an email.