Las Vegas Business Owner Charged with Purchasing "Contraband Cigarettes"
Las Vegas, Nev. – The owner of a local convenience store was arrested this morning by federal and local authorities on charges that he purchased 12,000 contraband cigarettes from an undercover local police officer, announced Daniel G. Bogden, United States Attorney for the District of Nevada. The charges are being brought as part of a federal and local law enforcement effort to combat organized retail theft.
Amer "Sunny" Ramo, 54, of Las Vegas, is charged in a criminal complaint with receipt, possession, and purchase of contraband cigarettes. Ramo was arrested at his business, Sunny's Market, located at 600 W. Lake Mead Blvd., in North Las Vegas. He is expected to make an initial appearance before a federal magistrate judge tomorrow.
"Organized retail crime costs the American economy billions of dollars every year," said U.S. Attorney Bogden. "This investigation is an excellent example of how federal and local law enforcement agencies can work together to combat a growing national problem. It should serve as a warning to retailers who consider purchasing stolen merchandise for resale."
According to the complaint, in February 2012, the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department (LVMPD) received information that Ramo was allegedly purchasing sealed, unopened liquor from individuals whom he knew or had cause to believe were stealing it from local grocery stores. LVMPD began an undercover investigation and made several sales to Ramo of liquor which they told him had been stolen from local businesses. On July 11, 2012, Ramo allegedly knowingly purchased 12,000 unstamped cigarettes from an undercover officer for $300, after the officer told Ramo that the cigarettes were stolen and did not have any tax stamps, as required by state law. The retail value of the cigarettes was approximately $3,314.
If convicted, Ramo faces up to five years in prison and a $250,000 fine.
The case is being investigated by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives, the LVMPD, and the North Las Vegas Police Department. The case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Christina Brown.
The public is reminded that a criminal complaint is a preliminary charging document and is not evidence of guilt. The defendant is presumed innocent and entitled to a fair trial at which the government has the burden of proving guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.