Five convicted in cigarette smuggling operation
MARTINSBURG, WEST VIRGINIA – Five individuals pled guilty in federal court to unlawful cigarette smuggling, United States Attorney William J. Ihlenfeld, II, announced.
Mohamed Abdo Elbarati, 30, of Winchester, Virginia, Farouk Mohamed Aldaylam, 29, of Queens Village, New York, Fahd Hamood Aljahaf, 38, of Bronx, New York, Galal Hameed Kassim, 30, and Muneer Kaid Khaled, 26, both of Brooklyn, New York, collaborated to facilitate a trafficking network designed profit from the unlawful sale of contraband cigarettes. The defendants transported large quantities of cigarettes across state lines for redistribution and sale. The cigarettes were acquired in Virginia, where the tax rate for cigarettes is one of the lowest in the nation, and sold in New York, which has one of the nation’s highest tax rates. The cigarettes were possessed and transported in West Virginia.
Each of the five defendants pled guilty to one count of “Conspiracy to Traffic in Contraband Cigarettes.” Each of the defendants faces up to five years in prison and a fine of up to $250,000. Under the Federal Sentencing Guidelines, the actual sentence imposed will be based upon the seriousness of the offenses and the prior criminal history, if any, of the defendants.
Assistant U.S. Attorneys Michael Stein and Shawn Adkins prosecuted the case on behalf of the government. Homeland Security Investigations, the Frederick County, Virginia Sheriff’s Office, the Virginia Office of Attorney General, the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau, the West Virginia State Police, the New York Department of Taxation and Finance, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, and the Internal Revenue Service - Criminal Investigation led the inquiry.
U.S. Magistrate Judge Robert W. Trumble presided.