Police: Bomb arrest, cigarette bust not linked

Westchester District Attorney Janet DiFiore announced Friday the break-up of the largest black market cigarette ring in the county's history.

During a news conference in Yonkers, DiFiore said 21 people were arrested for selling millions of dollars worth of untaxed and illegally stamped cigarettes.

Authorities say the operation was run by undercover officers for 11 months. In the course of the sting, the officers posing as suppliers sold $9 million worth of illegal cigarettes to wholesalers, who would then resell them. Officials say the state lost out on $46 million in taxes.

The 21 suspects could face up to 25 years in prison.

The probe into the sale of untaxed cigarettes had also led to the arrest of 54-year-old Cortlandt resident Gary Burstell in an unrelated case.

Burstell was charged with third-degree criminal possession of a weapon for allegedly making and selling homemade bombs to undercover officers. Police say they do not believe Burstell is a terrorist.

Burstell's bail was set at $1 million. He is due back in court next Thursday.

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For Westchester officials announcing bust of alleged black market cigarette ring, go to your digital cable box and select iO Extra on Ch. 612.

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