A Massachusetts man is facing charges in connection with a traffic stop on Interstate 84 last spring in Willington when he was found with boxes of counterfeit vaping accessories and a large amount of cash.

The man, Le Xiong, 38, of Quincy, Massachusetts, wasn’t charged at the time of the traffic stop, but was found Dec. 31 by Trumbull police and turned over to state police.

He was charged with sale of electronic nicotine systems with expired registrations and with forging stamps and symbols. He is free on a promise to appear, and is scheduled to appear in Vernon Superior Court on Feb. 17.

A state police affidavit supporting his arrest provides the following details:

On March 9, a trooper driving on I-84 near Exit 70 noticed a vehicle swerving between lanes and then pull over to the side of the highway. The trooper followed and when he walked up to the vehicle, he could see cardboard shipping boxes in the backseat with Chinese writing on them, containing numerous e-cigarette packages.

The driver, Xiong, told state police he was traveling from Hartford, where he was “picking up a few things.”

Xiong allowed state police to search his rental vehicle and they found a large amount of money in the center console and glove box. They then began searching the cardboard boxes, which had their shipping labels removed.

Xiong told state police there were nearly 3,000 e-cigarettes in the boxes. Shipping invoices showed that some of the boxes were shipped from China to a storage facility in Suffield, while others went to Boston first.

The invoices listed the price per device as 16 cents, which indicated they might be counterfeit. State police later learned that legitimate Puff Bar products sell for about $10 each.

Also in the vehicle, state police found a ledger containing business names and addresses, labeled as “wholesalers,” the affidavit says.

Xiong explained that he was a wholesaler who ships e-cigarette devices from China, and stores the inventory in storage units in Connecticut and Massachusetts. According to Xiong, the money in the car was from sales he made in Hartford to smoke shops, vape stores, and convenience stores.

At the time, Xiong was released from the scene after being issued a motor vehicle infraction, but all the products were seized.

The next day, state police communicated with a representative of Puff Bar who said that the products could be checked for authenticity using the registration numbers on each one.

Checking through a few of the products, state police noticed that some had identical registration numbers and came back as invalid when entered on Puff Bar’s website.


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