Cigarette smuggling operation nets prison for three
Posted January 30, 2012
Raleigh, N.C. — Three men have been sentenced to federal prison after a two-year undercover investigation into cigarette smuggling, authorities said Monday.
"Operation Smoke Screen" traced $21 million in cigarettes that the group purchased in North Carolina and illegally shipped to New York and New Jersey. By avoiding the higher sales taxes in those two states, the group was able to make a sizable profit on the cigarettes, authorities said.
Omar M. Nijim, 24, of Brooklyn, N.Y., was convicted by a federal court jury in Greenville last September of conspiring to traffic in contraband cigarettes. He was recently sentenced to three years in prison.
Nabil Nafiz Mustafa, 26, of Greensboro, Emad Hasan Tawfiq Wshah, 39, of Winterville, Mamoun Hasah Wshah, 40, of Greenville, and Sobhi Sulieman Shehadeh, 55, of Roanoke Rapids, each pleaded guilty to conspiracy to transport more than $5,000 in stolen goods across state lines.
Mustafa was sentenced recently to 20 months in prison, and Emad Wshah received a 26-month sentence. Mamoun Wshah and Shehadeh are awaiting sentencing.
The members of the group also forfeited $11.8 million in cash and other assets, including a 1999 Ferrari F355 Spider, a 2008 BMW X5 SUV, a 2009 Chevrolet Tahoe and a 2010 Ford F-150 pickup.