Illinois Men sentenced For Trafficking Contraband Cigarettes
United States Attorney James L. Santelle announced today that on Wednesday, July 17, 2013, federal Judge Lynn Adelman sentenced Shakil Wamiq, (age: 34), formerly of Bloomingdale, Illinois, and Mazher Khan, (age: 49), of Evergreen Park, Illinois, for their roles in a cigarette trafficking scheme that was in existence from late 2010 to early 2012.
Wamiq, was sentenced to 21 months in prison and ordered to pay $220,882.20 in restitution to the Illinois Department of Revenue as the result of tax losses caused by his criminal conduct. Adelman also ordered a money judgment of forfeiture in the amount of $472,993.20 based on the defendant’s illicit gains. In addition, Wamiq is required to pay $400 in special assessments.
Khan was sentenced to two years of probation, with the condition that he serve 180 days of home confinement. Khan was also ordered to pay $58,150 in restitution to the Illinois Department of Revenue, a money judgment of forfeiture in the amount of $125,308.80 and special assessments of $300. A 2009 Ford Econoline van registered to Khan was also forfeited as property used to facilitate the crime.
Both defendants were convicted in April 2013 by a jury in the Eastern District of Wisconsin. Wamiq, who operated as an Illinois distributor known as Good Deal Wholesale, Inc., located in Streamwood, Illinois, was convicted of four counts of contraband cigarette trafficking in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 2342(a). Khan, who operated in Illinois as MAK Distributors, in Mokena, Illinois, was convicted of three counts.
Also convicted as part of this criminal venture were Mohammad Uddin, (age: 30), of Naperville, Illinois, Adil Majid, (age: 54) of Bolingbrook, Illinois, and Haroon Bheri, (age: 33), of Glendale Heights Illinois all of whom pled guilty to a conspiracy to traffic contraband cigarettes in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 371. Uddin received a six month prison sentence to be followed by six months of home confinement and was ordered to pay $565,068 in restitution and $100 in special assessments. Majid and Bheri each received a probationary sentence with a condition of 180 days home confinement. Majid was ordered to pay $152,586 in restitution and Bheri was ordered to pay $173,166 in restitution. Both were also ordered to pay $100 in special assessments.
In addition, Maher Sunnokrot, (age: 38) of Worth, Illinois and Mohammed Mazharuddin, (age 41), formerly of Milwaukee and now residing in Texas, pled guilty to charges of misprision of felony in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 4. Each was given a probationary sentence and ordered to pay $66,400 in restitution and $100 in special assessments.
Additional defendants include Farrukh Aslam, (age: 28), formerly of Glendale Heights, Illinois, who is a fugitive and Ahsan Uddin, (age: 28), of Naperville, Illinois who is being supervised under the terms of a deferred prosecution agreement.
The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives initiated the year-long investigation into this activity 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 an undercover warehouse in Milwaukee and an undercover agent posing as a source for untaxed cigarettes. Video recordings showed the defendants purchasing cases of untaxed cigarettes with cash that was sometimes brought in shopping bags. The warehouse was devoid of accoutrements normally associated with a legitimate business, and the videos showed the defendants themselves loading the contraband cigarettes into their respective vehicles. The cigarettes were purchased at a cost that was substantially below that of an authorized manufacturer, and transported the cigarettes into Illinois where they were further disbursed.
Under federal law, only certain categories of persons may possess cigarettes which do not bear a state tax stamp. At trial Wamiq and Khan contended that their Illinois distributor licenses authorized them to purchase possess and transport the cigarettes involved.
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.