Nearly 5,000 packs of cigarettes hidden behind fake wall seized - Chicago News and Weather | FOX 32 News

Authorities seize nearly 5,000 packs of cigarettes hidden behind fake wall

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(Cook County Sheriff's Office) (Cook County Sheriff's Office)
CHICAGO (Sun-Times Media Wire) -

A hidden wall discovered during a routine search of a North Lawndale convenience store led to the seizure of nearly 5,000 packs of unlicensed cigarettes Thursday, authorities said.

The suspicions of Cook County Sheriff's police were raised when they entered Tom's Food Mart, 3553 W. Roosevelt Rd., just past noon and saw a man pass through a false wall, according to a release from the sheriff's office.

Sheriff's police say the false wall was hidden behind a bookcase and lead to a storage area where 4,977 packs of cigarettes were discovered without county tax stamps.

At the time of the discovery, sheriff's police and Department of Revenue inspectors were making a "routine" check to make sure cigarettes sold at the store had proper tax stamps, according to the release.

Thursday's discovery is the largest tobacco seizure of its kind to date and resulted in a $128,425 fine for the store's owner, sheriff's police said.

Revenue enforcement officers conduct random inspections to ensure the city collects its due tax, which is $3 per pack of cigarettes, sheriff's police said.

Last year the county collected about $1.3 million in cigarette tax fines.

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