NYPD sources confirm that Eric Garner was a player in an organized crime cigarette smuggling syndicate, Gotnews.com has learned.
Staten Island arrested Garner many times for smuggling untaxed cigarettes.
“Local merchants had long complained about him,” says John Cardillo, a former member of the NYPD who maintains connections with the department.
Other NYPD sources pointed out that Garner had 31 arrests, beginning when he was 16.
“Garner was setting up shop in front of the local stores and shaking down business owners and patrons as they entered,” says Cardillo.
Garner would use his considerable size to strong arm largely ethnic shopkeepers and was “on the radar” of local law enforcement who had arrested him previously.
“They were looking at him to see who his suppliers were,”
Untaxed cigarette smuggling across state lines is a multi-billion illegal trade. Alcohol, Tobacco, & Firearms has partnered up with Phillip Morris to help stop it.
Garner was facing three misdemeanor cases prior to his death, according to the Staten Island press.
Garner, 43, gave cops a phony name and put himself in more hot water when officers allegedly found untaxed cigarettes and a small amount of marijuana in the 1998 Lincoln Navigator he was driving, the complaint said.
He was charged with aggravated unlicensed vehicle operation, false personation, possession or sale of untaxed cigarettes and marijuana possession, according to information from District Attorney Daniel Donovan’s office.
Seven months later, while out on $1,000 bail, Garner was busted on March 28 for allegedly selling unstamped cigarettes on the street outside of 200 Bay St., Tompkinsville. He had 24 packs of untaxed smokes in his possession, police said.
The location is next door to 202 Bay St., where the fatal confrontation occurred Thursday between cops and Garner.
Garner was charged with a misdemeanor count of violating the cigarette and tobacco products tax and posted $1,000 bail, online state court records show.
Garner was arrested again on May 7 on Victory Boulevard and St. Marks Place, Tompkinsville. The site is across the block from Bay Street.
Cops accused him of possessing six packs of untaxed cigarettes.
Garner last appeared in court to answer the three cases on July 2. The matters were all adjourned then to Oct. 7, online state court records show.