Any smoker who moved to New York from another state has probably reflected on the fact that they could make a lot of easy cash just by filling up a U-Haul truck with cheap cigarettes from back home and driving them into the city. And boy would they be right! Congressman Peter King has helpfully crunched the numbers for an editorial in the Post today, and now we are seriously considering getting into the Newport-smuggling business full time. Upside: you can make $50K in a single trip. Downside: according to Peter King, you will probably use that money to finance "another 9/11-style attack." Also: Peter King loves to use the phrase "butt-smuggler":
The profit margins for cigarette smugglers are staggering. In New York City, where cartons must sell for a minimum of $70, a smuggler can make more than $50,000 on a 1,500-carton load. A well-organized ring can generate $200,000 to $300,000 a week.
Sweet! But wait:
Many cigarette-smuggling rings are now sending their profits to overseas terrorist organizations, including Hamas and Hezbollah. The report identifies three recent cases where cigarette smugglers had ties to such groups. In one case, convicted butt-smuggler Mohamad Hammoud made more than $8 million from 2000 to 2002 - and funneled at least $100,000 to Hezbollah. Officials estimate that these smugglers are sending millions a year to overseas terror networks...
The $50,000-plus from just one contraband load would be enough to fund as many as 10 USS Cole bombings. In just several weeks of butt-smuggling, a motivated terrorist cell could generate enough to fund another 9/11-style attack (estimated operational cost: $500,000).