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Press Release

Virginia man sentenced for role in cigarette smuggling operation

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Northern District of West Virginia

MARTINSBURG, WEST VIRGINIA –Mohamed Abdo Elbarati, of Winchester, Virginia, was sentenced in federal court today to 36 months incarceration for unlawful cigarette smuggling, United States Attorney Bill Powell announced.

Elbarati, 32, pled guilty to one count of “Conspiracy to Traffic in Contraband Cigarettes” in February 2016. Elbarati collaborated with others to facilitate a trafficking network designed to 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.

Assistant U.S. Attorneys Michael D. Stein and Shawn M. Adkins prosecuted the case on behalf of the government. Homeland Security Investigations, the Frederick County, Virginia Sheriff’s Office, the New York City 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.

Chief U.S. District Judge Gina M. Groh presided.

Updated August 17, 2018