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Press Release

Ten Chicago Area People Indicted on Charges of Trafficking Contraband Cigarettes

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Eastern District of Missouri

St. Louis, MO – An indictment was unsealed late yesterday charging the following ten Chicago people involving a conspiracy to buy State of Missouri tax stamped cigarettes and transporting them to Illinois for resale.

According to the indictment, between October 2012 and April 2015, the defendants purchased large amounts of State of Missouri tax stamped cigarettes in the St. Louis, Missouri area, from either a confidential informant or retail business, which they then transported to the Chicago area for resale.  The indictment alleges that they then sold the contraband cigarettes themselves or to local distributors.  The defendant’s made a profit at the expense of millions of dollars of lost tax revenue for the State of Illinois.

Individuals indicted:

  • Mohamad Awadallah
  • Khalid Alazzah
  • Ibrahim Moghli
  • Baraa Awwad
  • Wisam Zeidan
  • Ahmad Zayed
  • Raad Hamdeh
  • Suhaib Awwad
  • Muath Salah
  • Yazan Alsala Ymeh

Each defendant was indicted by a federal grand jury April 8th on one felony count of conspiracy to traffic in contraband cigarettes.  The indictment was suppressed until the arrest of some of the defendants Tuesday.  They are expected to appear in court Monday, April 20, 2015.

If convicted, this charge carries a maximum penalty of five years in prison and/or fines up to $250,000. In determining the actual sentence, a judge is required to consider the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines, which provide recommended sentencing ranges.

This case was investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation.  Assistant United States Attorney John Ware is handling the case for the U.S. Attorney’s Office.  

As is always the case, charges set forth in an indictment are merely accusations and do not constitute proof of guilt.  Every defendant is presumed to be innocent unless and until proven guilty.         

Updated May 7, 2015