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Undercover FBI agents share for first time how they took down international cigarette smuggling ring

By David Amoruso

Smuggling is a lucrative business. Always has, always will be. And where there’s smugglers, there’s cops trying to take them down. Undercover FBI agents Lou Calvarese, Jack Garcia, and Tom Zyckowski now share their story of how they infiltrated and took down a Chinese smuggling ring responsible for trafficking over a billion fake cigarettes.

“Over the course of some 1,000 meetings, their investigation — dubbed “Operation Royal Charm” — would pull the agents deep into a tangled Chinese underworld spanning coasts and continents. Together with a parallel California case, “Operation Smoking Dragon,” the twin investigations would result in 10 indictments, with 87 individuals charged, mostly ethnic Chinese,” journalist Te-Ping Chen writes in his article for investigative news organization The Center for Public Integrity.

Peng sat down with all three (retired) FBI agents as they talk him through their successful investigation. “We really got to see a network of cigarette smugglers up close,” Joaquin Garcia tells him. “It’s sophisticated, the way it works. And these guys are like hookers. There’s a lot of them.”

You can read the full story at The Center for Public Integrity

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