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Press Release

Two Worcester County Men Arrested for Trafficking Contraband Smokeless Tobacco to Evade $2 Million in Taxes

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

BOSTON – Two Worcester County men were arrested today for conspiring to traffic in contraband smokeless tobacco.

Mohammad Hanif Balaparya, 61, of Shrewsbury, and Rakesh Garg, 52, of Holden, were indicted by a federal grand jury with one count each of conspiracy to transport, possess, purchase and distribute in excess of 500 units of contraband smokeless tobacco. Balaparya was also indicted on one count of transporting and possessing over 500 units of smokeless tobacco. The defendants were arrested this morning and were released following an initial appearance in federal court in Worcester this afternoon. 

According to the indictment, throughout 2017, Balaparya and Garg rented a commercial box truck on an almost weekly basis to drive to Pennsylvania. While in Pennsylvania, Balaparya allegedly purchased significant quantities of smokeless tobacco, which he transported back to Massachusetts and stored at his home. On one occasion, on Dec. 7, 2017, Balaparya allegedly transported more than 500 units of smokeless tobacco from Pennsylvania to Massachusetts. It is further alleged that Balaparya and Garg distributed the smokeless tobacco to certain convenience store owners in Massachusetts. By doing so, the two men evaded over $2 million in excise taxes that wholesale distributors of smokeless tobacco in Massachusetts are required to pay.  

The charging statute provides for a sentence of up to five years in prison for each count, up to three years of supervised release, and a fine of $250,000, and restitution. Sentences are imposed by a federal district court judge based upon the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and other statutory factors.

United States Attorney Rachael S. Rollins; James M. Ferguson, Special Agent in Charge of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms & Explosives, Boston Field Division; Colonel Christopher Mason, Superintendent of the Massachusetts State Police; and Geoffrey E. Snyder, Commissioner of the Massachusetts Department of Revenue made the announcement today. Valuable assistance in the investigation was provided by the Shrewsbury and Holden police departments. Assistant U.S. Attorneys Greg A. Friedholm and Lucy Sun of Rollins’ Worcester Branch Office are prosecuting the case.

The details contained in the indictment are allegations. The defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.

Updated December 8, 2022