SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (WWLP) – A grand jury has indicted a father and son, as well as a business associate, who are accused of running a multi-state illegal cigarette sales ring. Pedro Perez, 54, Pedro DeJesus Perez, Jr., 21, and Saturino Maldonado, 56, all of Holyoke, are facing multiple charges, including tax evasion and conspiracy.
“These defendants were allegedly running a large-scale criminal operation that was transporting, selling, and distributing black market cigarettes across state lines for their own profit,” Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey said in a news release sent to 22News.
Prosecutors allege that Perez delivered trash bags full of untaxed cigarettes to convenience stores across Massachusetts, Connecticut, and Rhode Island. He also allegedly sold the cigarettes, which either had counterfeit revenue stamps or no revenue stamp at all, out of his Holyoke home.
DeJesus Perez and Maldonado allegedly helped make deliveries.
The elder Perez allegedly picked up the illegal cigarettes in New York, and would ship them into Massachusetts through a U-Haul van; storing the contraband merchandise inside a Chicopee storage facility.
22News cameras were rolling back in May when state troopers raided Perez’s home on Whiting Farms Road and took him into custody. Between Perez’s home, Maldonado’s home, the Chicopee storage unit, and a Dorchester convenience store, the AG’s office says more than 1,700 cartons of untaxed cigarettes were found- a total of 300,000 cigarettes. Investigators also allegedly discovered counterfeit revenue stamps and $22,000 in cash.
Perez was arraigned at Holyoke District Court back in June.
All three suspects are facing the following charges:
- Possession with intent to sell 12,000 or more untaxed cigarettes
- Possession of counterfeit stamps
- Tax evasion (concealment of items subject to tax)
Maldonado faces an additional charge of possession with intent to sell less than 12,000 unstamped cigarettes.
All three men will be arraigned at a later date at Hampden Superior Court in Springfield.