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Bootleg cigarettes turn up in Mississippi warehouse

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FBI declines comment tying to local search

By Becky Barnes

Information about last week’s raid on the Farmer’s Tobacco Company is being held close to the vest by federal officials.

Debra Madden, FBI media representative in Jackson, Miss., declined to tie the Kentucky search warrant to a recent seizure of $20 million in contraband cigarettes in Mississippi. However, she did confirm that a search warrant had also been executed in Mississippi.

According to The Clarion-Ledger in Jackson, the Mississippi warehouse contained approximately one million cartons of discount brand cigarettes from the U.S. and other countries.

Farmer’s Tobacco Co. is the manufacturer of Kentucky’s Best as well as other brands of cigarettes.

According to a press release from the Mississippi state auditor and tax commissioner, the April seizure found the tobacco products to be missing Mississippi tobacco tax stamps which are required by state law.

Madden said Wednesday morning that a federal search warrant was executed at the Cynthiana cigarette manufacturing facility as part of an on-going investigation.

About 9:30 a.m. Tuesday, May 19, agents from the Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI), Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms (ATF), Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau (TTB) and Kentucky State Police joined in the day-long search at the plant.

Farmers Tobacco Co. employees were sent home for the day, but returned on Wednesday.

Bob Ammerman, company president, directed comments from his attorney, Kelli Mulberry, who was unavailable for comment.