Defendants Convicted After Jury Trial of Trafficking Contraband Cigarettes
United States Attorney James L. Santelle announced today that on Friday, April 12, 2013, a federal jury in the Eastern District of Wisconsin found Shakil Wamiq, (age: 32), of Elgin, Illinois, and Mazher Ali Khan, (age: 49), of Evergreen Park, Illinois, guilty of contraband cigarette trafficking, a violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 2342(a).
Wamiq, who was operating as Good Deal Wholesale, Inc., in Streamwood, Illinois, was convicted of four counts, and Khan, who was operating as MAK Distributors, Inc., in Mokena, Illinois, was convicted of three counts. Each offense is punishable by up to five years in prison and a $250,000 fine.
Wamiq and Khan where charged in a federal indictment that included seven other defendants. They are Mohammad Uddin, (age: 30), of Naperville, Illinois; Mohammed Mazheruddin, (age: 41), formerly of Milwaukee, now residing in Texas; Adil Majid, (age: 54) of Bolingbrook, Illinois; Haroon Bheri, (age: 33), of Glendale Heights, Illinois; Maher Sunnakrot, (age: 38), of Worth, Illinois; and Farrukh Aslam, (age: 28), of Glendale Heights, Illinois. All other defendants except Aslam, who is a fugitive, resolved their cases prior to trial.
The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives initiated the year-long investigation based upon a complaint from a local citizen who alleged that his business was being financially undercut by persons who were dealing in untaxed tobacco products. The investigation included the use of an undercover warehouse in Milwaukee, and an undercover agent posing as a source of untaxed cigarettes. The defendants purchased untaxed cigarettes at the warehouse at a cost substantially below that of an authorized manufacturer, and they transported the cigarettes into Illinois, where they were further dispersed.
Under federal law, only certain categories of persons may possess cigarettes which do not bear a State tax stamp. Wamiq and Khan contended that their Illinois distributors’ licenses authorized them to purchase the cigarettes in Wisconsin and place them into commerce in Illinois.
Uddin, Mazharuddin, Majid, Bheri and Sunnakrot will be sentenced in June. Wamiq and Khan will be sentenced in July.
In announcing the guilty verdicts returned by the jury on Friday, United States Attorney Santelle commented: “This prosecution and the investigation on which it was premised reflects the continuing, focused commitment of federal law enforcement to identify, pursue, and bring to justice those individuals who not only engage in the unlawful trafficking of contraband but do so in a manner that compromises the legitimate business operations of law-abiding entrepreneurs. In concert with the prosecuting attorneys and professional staff of my office, the ATF Special Agents investigated, developed, and presented compelling evidence of criminal behavior here in Wisconsin and in Illinois, and Friday’s verdict—along with the previous convictions of the other co-defendants—should serve as a deterrent to others who may consider like conduct.”
The case was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorneys Carol L. Kraft and Laura S. Kwaterski and investigated by special agents of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.
# # # # #