The Big Sandy Rancheria Band of Western Mono Indians wants its cigarettes back before they potentially spoil. The tribe filed legal action on May 2 to have the more than $600,000 in cigarettes that were confiscated in February returned.
According to the Fresno Bee, the eastern Fresno County tribe is a major cigarette distributor to other California tribes. Tribal leaders told the local news outlet the cigarettes were improperly confiscated.
The seizure came in February when a delivery truck was stopped by plain clothed federal agents at an agricultural inspection station east of Barstow. The cigarettes were confiscated under the Contraband Cigarette Trafficking Act.
The government stands by the seizure stating there is no evidence of state or local taxes being paid on the cigarettes, and that the Canadian-based company the tribe bought them from isn’t state certified.
The Canadian-based company is located on the Six Nations Reserve and the cigarettes were manufactured by an Indian industry.
The actual value of the cigarettes is $609,811, according to tribal documents.
The case goes to court later this month.
ICTMN will have more.