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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                                                                                                                                                          August 22, 2011                   

NORTH CAROLINA MAN PLEADS GUILTY TO FEDERAL CONTRABAND CIGARETTE CHARGES

HUNTINGTON, W.Va. – Nasser Saleh, 51, of Raleigh, North Carolina pleaded guilty today before United States District Judge Robert C. Chambers to conspiracy to transport, receive, possess, purchase and sell contraband cigarettes.  Saleh admitted that between September 2010 until January 2011, he took part in a conspiracy with other known associates to purchase and transport contraband cigarettes in and around the Huntington area.  On 14 separate occasions between September 2010 and January 2011 the defendant, aided by his associates, purchased 2,534,000 contraband cigarettes. 

Saleh admitted to being responsible for 12,672 cartons of contraband cigarettes, representing a tax loss to the state of West Virginia of $69,696. Saleh faces up to 5 years in prison and a $250,000 fine when he is sentenced on November 21, 2011. 

The investigation was conducted by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF).  Assistant United States Attorney Michael Hissam is handling the prosecution. 

This case is being prosecuted as part of a yearlong undercover operation that targeted illegal drugs and firearms crimes in the Huntington area. The operation was led by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) and assisted by the U.S. Attorney’s Office, the Huntington Police Department, and various other law enforcement agencies. It was announced to the public in March after a grand jury returned indictments against 55 defendants.

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