The Washington Times-Herald

Local News

August 22, 2008

Officers make seizure of contraband and untaxed cigarettes in Washington

Police seized approximately 4,000 foreign untaxed cigarettes and a quantity of legend drugs Wednesday when they raided La Esquina Mexican Store, 402 W. VanTrees St.

Indiana State Excise officers, along with officers from the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms; Daviess County Sheriff’s Department; Indiana State Police; and the Washington Police Department found the 200 packs cigarettes and pills at approximately 3:30 p.m.

The store, owned by Leo and Lencho Becerra, was cited for having the contraband cigarettes, and officers will forward information to the state Alcohol and Tobacco Commission for fines or a hearing.

The legend drugs were seized by the state police. A report will be forwarded to the Daviess County Prosecutor’s Office for possible charges.

One source, who spoke with the Times-Herald but asked not to be identified, said there were illegal cigarettes at the store among other illegal activities.

A source close to the investigation said there were Marlboro cigarettes and pills in the store. The packages on the cigarettes had Spanish writing and did not have any stamps notifying state taxes were paid.

The source said the drug was Sudafed, a brand name for a decongestant, and was bought at the store.

A third source, who wished to remain anonymous for fear of retaliation, corroborated that legend drugs, medication that can only be bought with a prescription, had been sold at La Esquina in the past. That source said that illegal activities have been conducted at the store and at a restaurant near the store, El Muneco.

The Becerras, Leopoldo (Leo) and Florencio (Lencho), according to court records, have only traffic tickets filed against them and various civil complaints.

Attempts to reach the owners of La Esquina for comment were unsuccessful. The store was still open as of Wednesday afternoon.

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