Ukrainian National Sentenced for Contraband Cigarettes
KANSAS CITY, Mo. – Tom Larson, Acting United States Attorney for the Western District of Missouri, announced that a Ukrainian national was sentenced in federal court today for transporting thousands of cartons of cigarettes from Missouri to Chicago, Ill., in order to avoid paying nearly $165,000 in excise taxes.
Yevhen Sychikov, 32, a citizen of Ukraine residing in Chicago, was sentenced by U.S. District Judge Dean Whipple to one year in federal prison without parole. The court also ordered Sychikov to pay $164,890 in restitution.
On Oct. 20, 2016, Sychikov pleaded guilty to the interstate transportation of contraband cigarettes. Sychikov admitted that he purchased large quantities of cigarettes at convenience stores in northwest Missouri then transported them back to Chicago, which has a much higher excise tax on cigarettes. According to court documents, Sychikov was part of a larger smuggling operation trafficking in contraband cigarettes.
Sychikov, who made at least a dozen trips from Chicago to Missouri, purchased cigarettes from Trex Mart in Lathrop, Mo.; Discount Smoke and Liquor Store in Riverside, Mo.; and Tipsy Liquor in Smithville, Mo. On May 10, 2014, Sychikov purchased 20 cases (1,200 cartons) of cigarettes and transported them back to Chicago. On June 14 and 15, 2014, Sychikov purchased 1,395 cartons of cigarettes and transported them back to Chicago.
Missouri taxes cigarettes at a rate of 17 cents per pack. The combined state, county and city taxes from Illinois, Cook County and Chicago are $6.16 per pack. Therefore, the price differential on a carton of cigarettes (10 packs) is almost $60 per carton. Sychikov transported more than 26,000 packs of cigarettes, resulting in a tax loss of $164,890.
This case was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Paul S. Becker. It was investigated by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives NITRO Task Force.