New charge added in local cigarette smuggling case

Posted: February 7, 2013

The Winchester Star

Heng Ping Li

WINCHESTER — A case involving a New York man who had nearly 500 cartons of untaxed cigarettes was delayed Wednesday after authorities tacked on an additional charge against him.

Heng Ping Li, 44, of Brooklyn, N.Y., appeared in Winchester General District Court with Deputy Public Defender Carter B. Foulds.

Li, charged with possession of untaxed cigarettes, was expected to have his preliminary hearing Wednesday — but instead was served with a second warrant.

The Commonwealth Attorney’s Office charged him under the state code with possession with the intent to distribute contraband cigarettes — an addition to the local possession charge.

He will appear on both charges at 2:30 p.m. March 6 in the same court.

Officers arrested Li Jan. 11 after finding 480 cartons of untaxed cigarettes in his car and motel room at the America’s Best Value Inn at 1347 Berryville Ave.

Police also confiscated $5,022 in U.S. currency and a 2013 Ford Edge with Michigan registration as part of a search warrant.

Authorities called the bust the first of its magnitude for the city. The cigarettes in Li’s possession were estimated at the time to be worth from $21,600 to $25,000, but have a resale value of at least $50,000 to $60,000 in New York.

— Contact Melissa Boughton at mboughton@winchesterstar.com